Small Wars Journal

Iraqi Kurds Claim Victory in Independence Vote

Iraqi Kurds Claim Victory in Independence Vote by Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra - Associated Press

Iraq’s prime minister on Tuesday ordered the Kurdish region to hand over control of its airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban, as the Kurds claimed victory for the “yes” vote in an independence referendum rejected by Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors.

The Iraqi Kurdish leadership billed Monday’s vote as an exercise in self-determination, but the Iraqi government is strongly opposed to any redrawing of its borders, and Turkey and Iran fear the move will embolden their own Kurdish populations.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued his ultimatum a day after the landmark vote, which he said was a “historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership.”

“I will not give up on the unity of Iraq, that is my national and constitutional duty,” he said, adding that any ban would still allow for humanitarian and other “urgent” flights.

Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president who spearheaded the referendum, called for “dialogue” with Baghdad. “Negotiations are the right path to solve the problems, not threats or the language of force,” he said in a televised address…

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