The Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil, Iraq, formally inaugurated Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Masoud Barzani on June 14, 2005, as president of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, formalizing northern Iraq's de facto federalism. The nature of the region's relationship with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, however, remains ill-defined. The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq, a collection of essays derived from a December 2002 conference in Denmark and a September 2003 meeting in Washington, explores these unresolved questions.
O'Leary, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Salih, a lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, begin the collection with an essay exploring the denial and affirmation of Kurdistan in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Their discussion of the evolution of Iraqi Kurdistan through various Iraqi governments is detailed and well-complemented with maps. Their comparison of tactics used to address irredentist Kurdish nationalism falls short, though, because of their gratuitous antipathy toward Turkey and over-reliance on often-biased secondary sources.
Four essays on types of federation provide an excellent primer for Iraq's constitutional debates. O'Leary examines forms of federation, contrasting U.S.-style "integrative" federalism with the Swiss-style "pluralist" variety. In integrative federalism, decision-making is majoritarian rather than consensual, and the central government is stronger. McGarry, a nationalism and democracy specialist at Queen's University in Ontario, discusses lessons from the Canadian experience with "pluri-national" federalism. A third essay by O'Leary, with American University graduate student Karna Eklund and American University law professor Paul Williams, highlights debates regarding autonomy, resource sharing, and national versus regional militaries. A detailed additional chapter on children's rights in various constitutions by a UNICEF consultant is out-of-place.
Three authors address the legacy of the Iraqi Kurdish past. Tel Aviv University historian Ofra Bengio charts the development of Kurdish autonomy in the wake of the 1991 uprising but also addresses what she calls the "Kurds' Achilles Heel," meaning their propensity for internecine fighting. Gareth Stansfield contributes an interesting essay on the benefits of the Kurdish political divisions: duplicated administrations trained more bureaucrats, and competing governments sought to outdo each other's administrations. A contribution by Swedish development consultant Sophia Wanche on "Kurdish Perspectives on a Post-Saddam Iraq," based on field research conducted in 2002, fails to address its topic and instead rehashes well-worn discussions of the implications of independence, autonomy, and federalism.
A final section on immediate issues undercuts the collection's quality. Tennessee Technological University professor Michael Gunter's examination of the implication for Turkey of formal Kurdish federalism also disappoints, as it rehashes history but does not address mutual security, trade, and Tigris River water allocation. Peter Galbraith, a paid consultant to the Kurdistan Regional Government, lambastes the Bush administration, discounts Iraqi nationalism, misrepresents Iraqi Arab arguments, and is generally more Kurdish nationalist than many Iraqi Kurds.
Examining lessons learned from the U.S. military's occupation of Iraq, Kings College research fellow Karin von Hippel points out the need for greater coordination between civilian and military planning and also urges nongovernmental organizations to abandon their hostility to the military.
The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq offers a mixed assortment. It helps elucidate the federalist debate but some authors allow their sympathy for the Kurds to trump their analysis. Missing is any treatment of Iraqi Arab or Turkmen perspectives on Kurdish federalism. Despite these weaknesses, the collection offers a useful handbook as Iraqis determine their future.
 The contributor biography included in the collection describes Galbraith as "an advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kurdistan National Assembly," p. 341. Senior Kurdish Regional Government officials told the author about the paid relationship in Baghdad, Feb. 22, 2004, Sulaymaniyah, Mar. 14, 2004, and Erbil, Nov. 3, 2004.