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'Amicable Divorce': Why Kurds Make Renewed Push for Secession From Iraq

© AFP 2021 / SAFIN HAMEDIraqi Kurdish girls carry a Kurdistan flag during the celebration of Flag Day in the northern city of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq
Iraqi Kurdish girls carry a Kurdistan flag during the celebration of Flag Day in the northern city of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq - Sputnik International
Disenchanted with Baghdad and emboldened by their anti-Daesh successes on the battlefield, the Iraqi Kurds, including high-ranking political and military officials, appear to be making a renewed push for independence amid political turmoil.

In late April, Peshmerga leader Muhammad Haji Mahmoud, known as Kaka Hama, made a case for a referendum that is expected to be held later this year. Speaking before the Cambridge University Kurdish Society, he said that the vote should take place before Mosul, Daesh's stronghold in Iraq, is liberated and prior to the upcoming US presidential poll.

​Muhammad Haji Mahmoud also described Iraq as a country that consists of three separate entities.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters - Sputnik International
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​On Friday, Mala Bakhtiar, a senior member of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), called the referendum an "undisputed right" of the Iraqi Kurds.

Earlier this week, the Kurdish language news television network NRT News reported that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) urged local authorities to take "serious steps" towards holding the independence referendum. The KDP is led by Masoud Barzani, who has served as the president of Iraqi Kurdistan since 2005.

In March, Barzani confirmed that the vote would likely take place in October.

Both Masoud Barzani and Muhammad Haji Mahmoud emphasized that the vote will not automatically lead to independence, even if the majority of Iraqi Kurds back the move. "It is a card and a mandate in the Kurdish hands to negotiate it with the Iraqi government, the regional powers, and the West," the latter explained

Barzani's son, Masrour Barzan, who serves as Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, called Iraq "a conceptual failure" that has compelled different ethnicities "to share an uncertain future" although they have "little in common."

"It is time to acknowledge that the experiment has not worked. Iraq is a failed state, and our continued presence within it condemns us all to unending conflict and enmity," he wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post.

​Amicable divorce, Barzani argued, is the only option remaining on the table. An independent Kurdistan, in his opinion, will bring greater security and stability to the region plagued by sectarian violence. A sovereign nation will also be better positioned to tackle Daesh. In addition, it will gain access to international markets that would help to solve Kurdistan's financial troubles. 

​Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in northern Iraq, well-represented in federal institutions.

Local authorities have flayed Baghdad for failing to deliver on its promise to transfer 17 percent of the national budget to the Kurds under an oil and profit-sharing deal. They have also been unhappy with Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's attempts to reshuffle his cabinet by establishing a government of technocrats.

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