Kirkuk Policy Research Project


Project Description

Full Title: Kirkuk Policy Research Project: Resolving the Status of Kirkuk
Lead Fellow:  Sam Morris, MERI, International Politics and National Security
Project in Brief: The project will provide first-hand research on the situation in Kirkuk with an aim to put forward recommendations that can be offered to the KRG, the residents of Kirkuk and Baghdad for workable solutions to the current situation.
Term: 2014 – 2015
Most Recent: Publications and Events



Kirkuk is an issue that has long remained an unsolved. The diverse city, consisting of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen has historically been a flashpoint for violence. Each of its ethnic groups have different fears and concerns, all of which have to be addressed if the status of the disputed territory is to be peacefully resolved.

The resolution of the status of Kirkuk has been tied to the implementation of the 2005 constitution. In particular, article 140 which stipulates what stages are necessary for a referendum to be held.  Conflicting interests have cause Kirkuk to become a protracted issue that many have been unwilling to address.

Since the fall of Mosul the situation in Kirkuk has drastically changed. The Iraqi Army withdrew from Article 140 disputed territories, leaving Kurdish Peshmerga to secure these areas. With Kirkuk under the control of Peshmerga forces the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad once again flared up. The situation in Kirkuk has been left unresolved for too long. Creative ideas that take into account all sides are needed if the status of Kirkuk is ever to be determined.

The Project

MERI aims to conduct detailed first-hand research into the issue of resolving Kirkuk in the post fall of Mosul climate. All other research is now effectively out-of-date as the situation on the ground has dramatically and irreversibly changed.

MERI is in a unique position to speak to all concerned parties and provide analysis into the changing perspectives and legal aspects that have all developed since June 10th. The changing dynamics of the current situation mean that the research put forward by MERI will provide an up-to-date picture of the situation.

MERI will identify the key stakeholders who will shape the future of Kirkuk. The different threats and opportunities that Kirkuk is facing will be evaluated throughout MERI’s work. Specific recommendations can be offered to KRG, the Kirkuk governorate and Baghdad that provide workable solutions for Kirkuk.

As part of its work on the issue the Institute will hold a series of focus-groups and meetings, as well as producing detailed policy reports. Defining the current political, social and economic dynamics.

The attitudes of local communities will be assessed through face-to-face interviews, providing up-to-date information that few other organisations can. Legal aspects pertaining to the 2005 constitution will also be assessed. This will provide a framework for understanding whether the facts on the ground have changed the legal status of the area.

MERI will publish its findings in a detailed report. This report will clearly define best options for Kirkuk from an on-the-ground perspective through a detailed set of policy recommendations.

Publications and Events

The Kirkuk Policy Debate

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For more information please contact Mr Samuel Morris from our International Politics and National Security: