01:47 GMT22 February 2020
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    Iraqi Kurdistan's Independence Referendum (53)

    Residents from Iraqi Kurdistan are heading to the polls Monday to vote in an independence referendum amid stiff opposition from Baghdad, and concerns from neighboring Turkey, Iran and Syria. In this age of social media, Sputnik brings you some of the most popular and interesting reactions from ordinary Kurds, officials and foreign observers alike.

    Amid the vote, Iraqi Kurdistan's officials are running a social media campaign oriented toward the international community. Kurdistan officials, including President Masoud Barzani, posted a series of tweets in English about their support for the vote.

    But Iraqi Kurds' enthusiasm doesn't appear limited to officialdom. People have posted photos and videos of long lines at voting centers, and people of all ages, social status and party affiliation coming out to vote. 

    Others posted meme-laden commentaries about the referendum's historic implications, including the end of the colonial-era Sykes-Picot agreement between France and the UK, which created the modern state of Iraq nearly a century ago. The modern state of Iraq was officially defined in 1920 as a British colony after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.

    Others posted video arguments about the importance of the right to self-determination.

    Users from other parts of the world offered their support for the referendum, particularly activists from other regions fighting for independence, from Catalonia to Somaliland to Palestine.

    Not everyone has been supportive, however, showing just how complex the political and ethno-cultural makeup of the region really is. The Iraqi Assyrian Democratic Movement for example has issued its opposition to the referendum. 

    Some users have also marked their concerns about Iraqi Kurdish independence being a hidden US or Israeli project to Balkanize the Middle East. Others dismissed the idea.

    Finally, some users offered breaking news headlines about the security situation in the region amid the plebiscite.

    All in all, the majority of English-language Twitter commentaries have been supportive of Iraqi Kurds' push for independence. Others however have marked their concerns over its implications for the region, from Turkey to Iran and Syria, where significant Kurdish populations also reside.

    Iraqi Kurdistan's Independence Referendum (53)
    social media, referendum, tweets, independence, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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