The referendum isn’t limited to the three Kurdish governorates, or provinces, of Iraq; people in the disputed, oil-rich area of Kirkuk are also participating in the poll.
Iraq’s central government also condemned the KRG for including Kirkuk in its referendum and has threatened to retaliate.
Turkey and Iran, which also has a population of Kurds, have been among the most outspoken opponents of the referendum and were among the first to act. Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported that Iranian airspace bordering the Kurdish region had been closed at the request of Iraq’s government, and that the Iranian military was conducting exercises in frontier provinces.
The vote was “laying the ground for hot conflict,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Monday. Turkey now considered the Iraqi government the sole counter party in its arrangement over oil exports to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, he said.
No one in the region wants a sovereign Kurdistan except of course the Kurds themselves. Today’s referendum is a landmark event but the fact it also included Kirkuk is almost certainly going to set the region up for additional disagreement and potentially conflict. Turkey, in particular, is ambivalent to the idea of a sovereign Kurdish state on its border.
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