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Renad Mansour

The relationship of Iraqi Kurdistan to the Iraqi federal polity and the outside world challenges some of the standard assumptions in international law and international relations theory about statehood and de jure recognition. The Iraqi Kurdish model–building a de facto state first, and seeking international recognition later–provides an interesting counterpoint to the standard model and, for example, the Palestinian approach, which has focussed on international recognition before practical statecraft. The importance of international recognition in the current crisis involving the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, however, demonstrates that de jure recognition in the international community of states is still essential, and that ‘sovereign’ status likely remains the goal state desired by sub-national communities such as the Iraqi Kurds.