The relationship between the U.S. and Kurdistan region-Iraq post referendum

  • Mahd Ameen Abdullah PhDs at University Utara Malaysia (UUM) Assistant Lecturer at Soran University Faculty of law & international relation
  • Aminurraasyid Bin Yatiban University Utara Malaysia (UUM) School of International Studies (SOIS) Director of Institute of Excellence
Keywords: Iraqi Kurds, ISIS, the U.S, the Middle East, Referendum


The US foreign policy towards the Iraqi Kurds, after the emergence of (ISIS) passed through two different stages. The first one began with the fall of Mosul and the attack of the Islamic state (ISIS) on Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KGRI) we can call this stage the one prior to referendum that was held on September 25, 2017. When (ISIS) tried to enter Erbil the capital of (KGR-I), then US president Barak Obama announced that "Erbil is a red line for us" thereafter, it began to defend it by preventing the Islamic state from approaching Erbil and provided support to the (KGR) militarily and politically. The second phase of the US foreign policy towards the Kurds begins after the referendum in the Kurdistan; which we can call it the post-referendum stage. The relations were shifted from stage one completely, in which the US abandoned its support in particular the political one. Such abrupt shift in policy was a shock to Kurds as they did not expect this position from the US, given the sacrifices that Peshmerga made in fighting (ISIS). The Kurds attacked by The Popular Mobilisation Forces (al-hashd alshaebi) loyal to Iran, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi army. The US did nothing, making the Kurds to feel disappointed and despondent with the US reaction.

The study found out that: America is using the Kurdish issue in the Middle East as a card to make a balance of power. Therefore, we see that sometimes they support them and others abandon them.The disintegration of the Kurdish House was one of the main reasons that led America to abandon them in October 16, 2017.


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How to Cite
Abdullah M, Yatiban A. The relationship between the U.S. and Kurdistan region-Iraq post referendum. JAHS [Internet]. 19Sep.2019 [cited 16Jun.2021];23(4):308 -321. Available from: