Iraqi Kurds hold independence vote despite opposition
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 9/25/17, 10:34 am
Iraqi Kurds in the country’s autonomous region headed to the polls Monday for an independence referendum despite fierce regional opposition. Polls opened across the region’s three provinces and other disputed territories like Kirkuk, claimed by both the Kurds and the Iraqi government in Baghdad. In a televised address Sunday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the referendum unconstitutional and said “it threatens Iraq, peaceful coexistence among Iraqis, and is a danger to the region.” Kurds also live in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Some of those countries’ governments decried the vote, fearing it could trigger a similar movement among their Kurdish minorities. Iran’s news agency on Sunday said the country’s security council blocked its airspace to the Kurdish region at Iraq’s request. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Turkish troops have moved to the Iraqi border and are ready to take “necessary steps.” The Kurdish region’s president, Masoud Barzani, at a Sunday news conference said he believed the voting process would be peaceful but the path to independence could be risky: “We are ready to pay any price for our independence.”
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.