In the days leading up to Iraqi Kurdistan's Sept. 25 independence referendum, a group of politicians in Kirkuk from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which officially supported the referendum, opposed Kurdish nationalist fervor and questioned the wisdom of conducting the referendum in Kirkuk. They feared that holding the plebiscite there would damage the communal cohesion among the Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen communities. The dissidents were silenced the night before the vote, as excitement triumphed. The next day, Kirkuk residents cast ballots. With the government in Baghdad, along with Iran and Turkey, tightening the screws on the Kurdish leadership to forgo acting on the result of the balloting, internal Kurdish fissures have resurfaced in Kirkuk.
“For statehood to arise, a people’s right to self-determination and their desire to exercise it must be matched with possibility.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) would be "responsible for the upcoming incidents in the region".
Turkey has asked the Ankara representative of Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Omer Merani, to not return to Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sept. 26.
Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday, September 23, when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, security sources said.
Since the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced in June that it will hold a referendum on declaring independence from Iraq, the Turkish government has maintained a coolheaded approach — until now. As the Sept. 25 referendum approaches, Ankara seems to be toughening its stance against Iraqi Kurdistan independence.
The political establishment in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is divided in opposition to and support for holding a referendum on independence and what the government's priorities should otherwise be.
Representatives of 68 states wrapped up meetings last week to discuss strategies to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). The Islamic State’s defeat may end one chapter in Iraq’s history, but it simply pushes other suppressed issues to the forefront.
Female Kurdish fighters, who represent less than 1% of the roughly 200,000 peshmerga forces, have become “the bankable icon” of the fight against the Islamic State. But beyond the illusions of a land that supports women’s rights, the reality in Iraqi Kurdistan is much less glamorous.
The independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is being discussed once and more. Most recently, KRG President Massoud Barzani cited the disintegration of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in reference to Iraq’s future. He inflamed the longstanding discussion about independence, saying, “Kurds have the right to self-determination just as Eastern European people do.”