Kurds Vote Overwhelmingly for Independence From Iraq

Baghdad is unmoved
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 27, 2017 11:35 AM CDT
A Kurdish flag hangs in the Irbil airport in Iraq on Sept. 27, 2017.   (Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The Kurds clearly want their own nation: Monday's referendum on independence from Iraq was approved by more than 92% of voters, officials said Wednesday. Even with the strong support, however, the non-binding vote is unlikely to lead to formal independence, per the AP. But the vote has escalated long-running tensions with Baghdad, which has moved to block flights in and out of the Kurds' autonomous region. Iraq and its neighbors, along with virtually the entire international community, are opposed to any redrawing of the map. The vote was held across the autonomous Kurdish region's three provinces, as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad.

Iraq's Arab-dominated parliament approved a 13-point resolution that gives Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the mandate to deploy troops in the disputed territories, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, but al-Abadi said Wednesday he doesn't want a "fight between the Iraqi citizens." At a meeting with lawmakers, he instead vowed to "enforce the rule of the federal authority in the Kurdish region with the power of the constitution." On Wednesday, the parliament modified the resolution to demand that Baghdad refrain from taking part in any dialogue with the Kurds until the results of Monday's vote are canceled. It also called on the government to bring those behind the vote, including Kurdish regional President Masoud Barzani, to justice. (Read more Kurdistan stories.)

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