Iraq’s Kurds have vowed to hold an independence referendum on Monday (September 25) despite opposition from the government in Baghdad and warnings it could cause unrest across the region.
Turkey and Iran fear that their own Kurdish populations may also want to secede and they support Iraq in saying the vote should be cancelled.
The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani insists that it should go ahead.
“We’ve reached this conclusion because only through independence can we secure our future, without the atrocities we’ve suffered in the past.” […] “We can take the time to secure a ‘good neighbours’ relationship between Kurdistan and Baghdad. But I would like to stress that we are never ever going back to renegotiating the failed partnership we’ve had in the past.”
The referendum is widely expected to result in a ‘yes’ for independence.
“I’m urging everybody – my family, my friends – to head to the polls and vote ‘Yes’ so we can have an independent Kurdistan that can develop economically and culturally”, said Irbil resident, Qadem Ramadan.
Pressure has mounted on Kurdistan ahead of the referendum. On Sunday (September 24), Iraq urged foreign countries to stop importing crude directly from the autonomous region.