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Transformation of Turkey's Regional Policies: The Case of the KRG Referendum Debacle


Turkey’s response to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq’s independence referendum took most observers by surprise. The prevailing assumption was that, despite its vocal objections, Turkey would eventually just accommodate the results of the referendum because years of engagement and a KRG-centred Iraq policy had created multi-faceted interdependencies, which would be hard to overturn. However, rhetoric dictated policy. In a counter-intuitive move, Turkey realigned its partnerships to chart a new policy which involved greater coordination with the central government of Iraq. This reaction is best understood through a study of contextual variables at regional, domestic and leadership levels which have led to major changes in Turkey’s regional policies.
Keywords: Turkey’s Middle East policy, KRG, Iraq, Turkmen, PKK