Iraqi Kurds Plan Independence Referendum on September 25,2017
Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday June 07,2017 announced it would hold a referendum on independence, in a move the central government in Baghdad is likely to oppose strongly.
"I am pleased to announce that the date for the independence referendum has been set for Monday, Sept. 25, 2017," Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said on Twitter.
Barzani's assistant Hemin Hawrami tweeted that voting would take place in the disputed region of Kirkuk and three other areas also claimed by the central government; Makhmour in the north, Sinjar in the northwest and Khanaqin in the east.
The president of Iraq's ruling Shi'ite coalition told Reuters in April it would oppose a Kurdish referendum. Ammar al-Hakim especially warned the Kurds against any move to annex oil-rich Kirkuk.
The referendum date was set after a meeting of Kurdish political parties chaired by Barzani, who heads the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Hawrami said the question put to voters would be "do you want an independent Kurdistan?"
Iraq's majority Shi'ite Arab community mainly live in the south while the Kurds and the Sunni Arabs inhabit different areas of the north. The centre around Baghdad is mixed.
The idea of Iraqi Kurdish independence has been historically opposed by Iraq and neighbouring Iran, Turkey and Syria, as they fear separatism spreading to their own Kurdish populations
Iraq has been led by Shi'ites since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, by the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.