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As the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) consolidates its presence in Iraq, the question of an independent Kurdish state has again become the subject of heated debate. Despite a rapidly changing situation, with U.S. airstrikes supporting peshmerga attempts to push ISIS back, realities regarding the prospects of Kurdish independence remain largely unchanged. As aspirations among the Kurdish population for an independent, secure and economically flourishing state within Iraq mount, rifts within Kurdish parties stand in the way of even an agreement on whether independence is viable. Outside Iraq, the potential implications of an independent Kurdish state are crucial, particularly in Turkey, where up to one-quarter of the population is Kurdish. Although Turkey does not officially support an independent Kurdish state – the Turkish government fears independence could set a precedent for its large Kurdish minority – it has not made any statement against it either. Beyond Turkey, the issue of international support for an independent Kurdish state is far from settled.Finally, despite the presence of well-organized and well-trained peshmerga forces, serious security challenges in a highly volatile region will continue to exist even after the potential establishment of the Kurdish state.
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