A move that was known to be coming for years, the referendum on the potential secession of Kurdistan from Iraq is going to be coming at some point in 2017, and the United Nations has agreed to oversee the vote, with the US also expected to be involved.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has long held secessionist ambitions, and early on in the war against ISIS, Kurdish officials made clear that the question would be addressed as soon as fighting with ISIS was resolved. With Mosul the last city to be contested, that day is seen fast approaching.
The Iraqi government has long feared that possibility, with the KRG including a lot of oil-producing regions. That becomes even more pronounced if Kurdistan retains territories conquered in the fighting against ISIS, including the major city of Kirkuk.
With the fate of Kirkuk clearly up for grabs, the Iraqi parliament has moved to formally ban the display of the Kurdish flag on all government buildings. The Kirkuk Provincial Council had previously approved the flag’s display, but in a vote which saw the boycott of many Arab and Turkmen MPs.