Iraq Breaking Apart: Kurds Plan Independence Vote

90 walk out of parliament meeting

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 1, 2014 10:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – With Iraq divided by violence, its Kurdish region is ready to consider forging a nation of its own. Massoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, says he's planning a referendum on independence that could occur in "a matter of months," the BBC reports. Kurdistan has long wanted independence and feels it's done its part to support a unified Iraq. But "everything that's happened recently shows that it's the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence," Barzani says. "From now on, we won't hide that that's our goal. Iraq is effectively partitioned now. Are we supposed to stay in this tragic situation the country's living?"

Iraq's parliament appeared poised to grapple with the country's upheaval today—but after a half-hour break in its session, 90 members didn't come back, CNN reports. The lack of a quorum prompted a postponement, with the acting speaker citing an unspecified "urgent matter" as the reason for the delay. The New York Times reports that those who walked out were Sunnis and Kurds, and their departure indicated opposition to Shiite religious leaders' calls for a quickly-arranged new government representing all three groups. Shiites are the country's majority, living in Baghdad and the south, while Sunnis live in the north and Kurds are in the northeast. USA Today notes talk of dividing the country into three zones—something Joe Biden proposed in 2006. "I would accept any solution to stop the bloodshed, even if it was a confederation or division," says a dentist in eastern Iraq.

Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote in parliamentary elections, in Salah al-Din resort, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote in parliamentary elections, in Salah al-Din resort, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.   (AP Photo)
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