Voice of Truth

EMET - Endowment for Middle East Truth

The Kurdish Independence Referendum

The Kurdish independence referendum was recently held in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25th. The results were overwhelmingly in support of the bid with 93 percent voting YES. However, the referendum campaign did not come easy. Kurds received backlash from not only Baghdad but Iran, Turkey, the United Nations and the United States. The international community was eager for the Kurds to postpone the referendum, but the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) asked, if not now, when? World powers failed to provide an alternative or to guarantee a state for the Kurds. Naturally for the Kurds after feeling betrayed by world powers since the end of World War I, felt this was an opportunity they could not easily pass up.

Not even a week has passed, the KRG and the Kurdish people are already feeling the consequences of the referendum. Iraq has implemented a no fly zone in the north, demanded the KRG to hand over the two international airports, and called for all international flights to be halted into Kurdistan. Iran has closed its airport at the request of the Iraqi government. Turkey has threatened war and an invasion, the government of Erdogan has conducted military drills with the Iraqi army along the KRG border. Turkey has also threatened to starve the Kurds by cutting off oil exports.

The Kurds do have one state supporting their referendum and aspirations for an independent state, Israel. To Kurds this was not surprising and was very much welcomed, Kurds and Jews always find common ground in a hostile region. Of course, Iraq, Turkey and Iran opposed the referendum and labeled the support as an "Israeli project" and Iraqi Vice President Maliki event went to the extent of stating that "we will not allow a second Israel."

The next few days and weeks will be significant as the referendum dispute plays out. One thing is for sure though, dialogue between the KRG and Baghdad is a must without outside intervention or interference.