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Natural resources and contested sovereignty: the case of the Kurdistan region in Iraq

Azeez, Shwan Jamal (2022) Natural resources and contested sovereignty: the case of the Kurdistan region in Iraq. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.98681) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:98681)

Language: English

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This research sets out to investigate the links between natural resources and sovereignty. The existing scholarly literature shows that the links between natural resources and various dimensions of sovereignty have been largely overlooked. This thesis uses the concept of de facto statehood as its primary theoretical framework. This research employs a single-case study of the Kurdish de facto state to examine the oil sovereignty nexus between 2003 and 2019. It argues that the conflict over oil resources between the KRG and the Iraqi government is very difficult to resolve because it revolves around sovereignty rather than just financial interests. The findings of this research suggest that natural resources have a paradoxical impact on the sovereignty of the KRG. On the one hand, the KRG's sovereignty was strengthened by the high oil price between 2003 and 2013. On the other hand, the KRG's domestic and Westphalian sovereignty has been undermined from 2014 to 2019 by the low oil price in conjunction with other factors. While oil is crucial for the survival of the Kurdish de facto state and its engagement with foreign actors, it does not lead to the creation of a sovereign Kurdish state. The findings of this research also have significant implications for the direction of future research as they focus on issues such as competition over natural resources, contested sovereignty and natural re-sources as a foreign policy instrument, and also issues that are essential to understanding how sovereignty evolves.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Voller, Dr Yaniv
Thesis advisor: Sakwa, Dr Richard
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.98681
Uncontrolled keywords: natural resources; sovereignty; contested sovereignty; legitimacy; recognition; de facto state; unrecognized state; resource wars; Kurdistan Region in Iraq
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2022 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 16:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Azeez, Shwan Jamal.

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