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Thursday, February 22, 2018

“Destabilizing” the referendum: the Kurds voted in favor of secession from Iraq

According to preliminary estimates, in the past in Iraqi Kurdistan referendum, more than 93% of voters (with a turnout of almost 80%) voted for independence of their region from Iraq. The results of the plebiscite was of course predictable (though the final official results will be announced on September 28), but the fact of its carrying out – on the background of negative or neutral reactions of other States – is essential to the future of the Middle East. The U.S. state Department stressed that the referendum will lead to increased instability in the region. Nevertheless, says senior researcher of the Center for the study of the Middle East Institute of Oriental studies Cyril VERTYAEV, automatic Declaration of independence of Kurdistan for a vote is not forthcoming, and yet to maintain the status quo.

“The leader of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani, I believe, still be taken into account geopolitical realities, and the fact that all the neighbors strongly oppose its independence, – the expert said in an interview with “MK”. – It is possible, of course, the option of unilateral Declaration of independence – in this case, it would be an unrecognized state. But most likely now will be to maintain the status quo. Because even before the referendum and Barzani, the main Kurdish political forces spoke about the fact that the vote is the will of the people, meaning the automatic Declaration of independence. And based on the results of the referendum Erbil (capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. – “MK”) will negotiate with Baghdad on the peaceful “divorce”. As these negotiations will continue and whether it comes to the real separation of Kurdistan is now a very complex question.”

It is no secret that the Kurdish formation play an important role in the fight against militants of the so-called “Islamic state” (ISIS/ISIL/DAISH is banned in Russia and several other countries a terrorist group). According to Kirill Vertyaev, past vote to the opposition of the Kurds (who have teamed up with American and Iraqi forces) terrorists, will not affect: “ISIS is now decentralized, remain enclaves, where large numbers of jihadist supporters. But as the Kurds were and will fight with them. By the way, the U.S. position on the referendum was the fact that he nesvoevremenno, and it is better to focus on the destruction of ISIS, and then decide the question of independence. But the Kurdish people decided otherwise and a vote taken. However, the Kurds unfavorable destabilization and damaged relations with neighbors”.

Among neighbors a special place is Turkey, whose leadership had previously said it would not recognize any outcome of the referendum. “It is unlikely that Turkish authorities would exert pressure on Baghdad in future negotiations with the Kurds. Ankara spoke out unequivocally in support of the territorial integrity of Iraq. But at the same time made clear that in case of the Declaration of independence of a Kurdish state, with its sides no military action will not follow. Ankara is interested in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the event of independence, did not become a center of attraction for Turkish Kurds to separatist tendencies did not spread to Turkish territory. Now Turkey is the biggest trading partner of Iraqi Kurdistan. And I guess if it comes to the creation of an independent state, Ankara can negotiate with the Kurds, but now her rhetoric is tough enough”.


Originally the referendum was planned to be held in 2014, but amid disputes between the Kurdistan Regional government and Federal government of Iraq, it was postponed. A new impulse for the movement of the Kurds towards independence was the invasion of the “Islamic state” in Northern Iraq. In 2014-2017 referendum several times, was announced and several times delayed, as Kurdish forces cooperated with the Iraqi Central government in the liberation of Mosul. 7 June 2017, it was announced that the vote will take place on 25 September 2017. In January 2005, the Kurdistan region was also held an unofficial referendum on independence. Then to 98.8% of voters voted for the separation of territory from Iraq. Action to no avail.


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