For Iraq's Long-Suffering Kurds, Independence Beckons

(New York Times) Tim Arango - There is little doubt about how Kurds will vote in a referendum this month on independence from Iraq. Numbering 30 million people spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurds are often described as the world's largest ethnic group without their own homeland. Iraqi Kurdistan, an oil-rich enclave in northern Iraq, may be their best hope. But outside of Kurdistan, every major player in the neighborhood opposes the vote. Baghdad has indicated that it would not recognize the results. But the Kurdistan Regional Government says the vote will go forward as scheduled on Sept. 25 and will be binding, setting in motion a formal breakaway process from the Iraqi government. The U.S. established a no-fly zone in northern Iraq in 1991 during the time of Saddam Hussein. That protection gave the Kurds breathing room to build an autonomous region and the bones of an independent state. But after the price of oil collapsed, the regional government, which has not been able to export enough oil to achieve financial self-sufficiency, is close to $20 billion in debt.

2017-09-12 00:00:00

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