More than 92% of those who casted valid ballots voted in favor
Iraq Kurds have voted in favor of declaring independence from Iraq in what is being called a historic and controversial referendum that will have implications for the Middle East. The outcome seems to be a step forward for a semi-autonomous region in the northern part of the country.
The event took place despite the fervent efforts of the opposition from the Iraqi government, which stated that it was unconstitutional while it authorized the use of force against the Kurds. On the other hand, the Kurdistan Regional Government stated that the referendum will open up the door for mandates to talk about the succession, even though Baghdad has already ruled out said possibility.
Masoud Barzani, the de facto president of the region’s Kurd, had hoped to use the positive feedback from the event as political leverage that could eventually help negotiate independence from Iraq. Barzani’s dogmatic moves have been met with hostility.
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Last week, Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi Prime Minister, solicited the referendum to be annulled and to engage with the KRG in dialogue as guided by the constitution. Nearly all neighboring political powers objected to the event due to the alleged destabilization that the voting would bring to the region.
Baghdad has threatened to close Kurdish airspace at 6pm on Friday while Turkey says it is considering shutting its frontier with Kurdistan. On the other hand, Abadi appeared to rule out the use of military force, stating “we don’t want a fight between Iraqi citizens”.
The United States and Britain, two countries who have made it clear that they oppose the referendum and have described it as “disappointing”, have softened their rhetoric. Both powers have even tried to broker a deal between Erbil and Baghdad.
Latin American Post | Susana Cicchetto