IRBIL, Iraq — Iraq’s Kurds vote this month on whether or not they support independence for their enclave in the country’s north, a step toward their long-held dream of statehood. The outcome, almost certain to be “yes,” will further rattle a region still engulfed in the fight against the Islamic State group.
A “yes” vote won’t mean immediate independence for the Kurdish region since the referendum does not have legal force. But Kurdish officials say they will use it to pressure the Iraqi government in Baghdad to come to the negotiating table and formalize their independence bid.
Since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, the Kurdish government has held off on dreams of statehood, saying it would try working within a united Iraq, albeit with a large degree of autonomy..