Many Obstacles to Kurdistan Independence Referendum

Abadi’s position, which is based on sensitive calculations and complicated balances, shows that he does not want to engage in a new crisis with the Kurds on the issue of the referendum before the end of the war with IS, which is witnessing the highest levels of coordination between the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish peshmerga.

His position also shows that he does not want to open another front of political confrontation while he fights undeclared wars with Shiite parties represented by the political forces that are allied with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking to achieve a “political majority” all the while taking firm positions on the Kurds.

Baghdad, which has long opposed any cessation project in Iraq, may bet on the internal differences in the Kurdistan Region and perhaps the pressure exerted by the regional powers, especially Turkey and Iran, to hinder this independence, even though the United States recognizes the possibility of making the Kurdish dream come true and considers that Kurdish independence has become a question of “not if but when," as per a statement made May 23 by Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

The coming weeks will be fraught with changes, especially considering that Tehran has asserted that it will defend “the unity and national sovereignty of Iraq and will not accept the independence of the Kurds of Iraq.”

Almost the same position was announced by the Turkish government on April 1. This means that Tehran and Ankara will not stand idly by as Kurdistan seeks to achieve independence, and they will work to disrupt or thwart the Kurdish efforts in this regard. Meanwhile, Baghdad’s Sunni and Shiite political forces continue to oppose such a possible referendum.

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