Universiteit Leiden

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PhD defence

Fluidity and Dynamics of De Facto Statehood: The Case of Iraqi Kurdistan

  • K.M.A. Palani
Wednesday 7 July 2021
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. E. Bakker

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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Pedel's office (+31 71 572 7211)


This thesis describes the dynamics and nature of Iraqi Kurdistan’s de facto statehood since its inception in 1991, in particular the vicissitudes de facto independence since then. This dissertation characterizes de facto statehood in Kurdistan since its inception, and uncovers the dynamics of de facto statehood in Iraqi Kurdistan at internal, national and international levels.  Kurdistan’s de facto statehood (such as territorial control, monopoly on the use of violence, and engagement with the international community) is shown to be inherently characterised by fluidity. In this thesis, fluidity is defined as a highly unstable nature of de facto statehood in the relational context of non-recognition. The dissertation reports on interviews with a number of high profile politicians and policy makers from the region to provide unique insights, among others the three main factors at play in the fluidity of the de facto state of Iraqi Kurdistan:  the balance of power between the regional capital of Erbil and the Iraqi national capital of Baghdad; the level and form of internal fragmentation; and the change of strategies to gain international recognition.

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