More than 90% of Iraq’s Kurdish population have now voted for independence from Iraq. While the referendum is not binding, it reflects the will of a minority group that has a long history of persecution and statelessness.
The independence referendum is an important step toward remedying a historic injustice inflicted on the Kurdish population in the aftermath of the First World War. Yet, while millions took to the streets to celebrate, it is clear that the challenges of moving forward toward establishing an independent Kurdistan are only just beginning. Already, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, has said: “we will impose the rule of Iraq in all of the areas of the KRG, with the strength of the constitution.” Meanwhile, other Iraqi lawmakers have called for the prosecution of Kurdish representatives who organized the referendum — singling out Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, specifically.