Iraqi Kurds’ Independence Referendum Is a Lightning Rod for Broader Regional Conflict

Kurds wave Kurdish flags during a rally to support an independence referendum in Iraq, Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).
Kurds wave Kurdish flags during a rally to support an independence referendum in Iraq, Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 17, 2017 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Iraq’s Kurds are slated to vote on a referendum for independence on Sept. 25, despite fervent opposition from outside parties, including Iraq’s central government. With tensions building, the referendum has become a lightning rod among the coalition of forces united to eliminate the self-proclaimed Islamic State, whose stronghold straddles Iraq and Syria. In an email interview, Ramzy Mardini, a nonresident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, discusses how the referendum might affect the international campaign against the Islamic State, the post-conflict state of affairs in Iraq and relations between the Kurds and […]

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