It should have happened after Saddam’s regime fell…
So, whether the US will be embroiled in yet another conflict in the Middle East remains to be seen, but with the majority of the region supporting a unified Iraq, it does seem questionable whether independence, even with a greater presence of Israel within the region, will fire up the furnaces of war. The only real issue will be how the Iraqi government handles the referendum result and how, in the event of an eventual recognition of an independent Kurdish state, the oil will be divided.
ANALYSIS: HOW KURDISTAN’S INDEPENDENCE CAN SPARK THE MIDDLE EAST
For some, Kurdistan’s Independence Referendum that was held on 25th September may have passed by unnoticed, with the Catalan Independence Referendum seeming to garner significantly more attention.
According to the Kurdish Election Committee, voter turnout was reported to have been 72%, with 92.73% voting in favour of independence. Quite a compelling margin and a significantly high turnout.
The Referendum had been originally planned for 2014, stemming from disagreements between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and central Iraqi government and came off the back of an unofficial 2005 referendum, where 98% voted for independence.
While the 2005 referendum and even the latest were classified as non-binding, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government has changed its position, calling the referendum binding. The KRG had also claimed that a result in favor of independence would kick-start preparing and negotiating independence from Iraq, rather than anything more drastic as the Iraqi government has already rejected the legality of the referendum.
Following the result, a Kurdish court was then given the task to review the results of the referendum and approved the outcome, noting that there had been no red flags during the process, with international observers also affirming that the vote had been held in an appropriate manner. The head of the commission has stated that the result will be final once approved by the Kurdish Court of Appeals, while the Iraqi government has asked that the Kurdish government annuls the result ahead of any talks between the KRG and the Iraqi government over ongoing disputes.