The Kurdish independence referendum has become a real hot topic of discussion for the world, as well as a subject of concern for many countries – among them, first of all, for Iraq. On September 18, Iraq’s Supreme Court ordered the suspension of Kurdish independence referendum, while the Prime Minister of Iraq demanded from the authorities of the Iraqi Kurdistan to stop the preparation of independence referendum. But not only – he warned that Iraq is ready for military intervention if the independence referendum leads to violence.
And the first clashes took place very soon. On September 18, several hundred Kurdish activists gathered at the office of the leading political party of the Kirkuk Turkmen community to celebrate the upcoming referendum, but a clash started between the Kurdish and Turkmen people, killing a Kurd and injuring several people. According to Eurasia Daily, a curfew has been declared in the city.
It should be reminded that the oil-rich province of Kirkuk is a controversial region. The authorities of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan in fact control this territory and consider it a Kurdish land, while official Baghdad claims that Kirkuk was never a part of Kurdistan. However, the provincial council decided that Kirkuk would take part in independence referendum, which angered the official Baghdad, Lenta.ru reports. According to President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masud Barzani, Kirkuk should be a symbol of coexistence for all ethnic groups. "If the people of Kirkuk vote" No "in this referendum, we will respect their voice ... But we do not agree that anyone can prevent us from holding a referendum there," he said, Kurdistan.ru reports.
Not only Iraq spoke against the independence referendum. Turkey, Iran and Syria are also against holding a referendum, since this referendum could become a precedent for the entire Kurdish population and could provoke a chain reaction in these countries. The US is also against holding a referendum. The White House appealed to the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan, saying that the referendum distracts from attempts to defeat the ISIS and stabilize the situation in the liberated areas.
Thus the situation around Kurdish independence referendum is quite difficult and either result will become a topic of great debates, as well as a cause for various developments. However, the fact of holding a referendum will become another expression of the right to free expression of will – a right that should be respected and not violated.