The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq today announced that they intend to hold an independence referendum on September 25, with the voting scheduled to take place not only in the three provinces of the KRG, but also in territory they’ve captured militarily from ISIS, and which they intend to keep.
It has been widely expected that the Iraqi Kurds would consider secession as soon as the ISIS war was wrapped up, but exactly what this referendum will end up meaning is unclear, as top officials like Hoshyar Zebari have insisted a “yes” vote wouldn’t necessarily mean a declaration of independence from Iraq.
The Iraqi central government has made clear it opposes Kurdish secession and has warned against holding any such referendum. That said, it appears that there is little the Baghdad government can effectively do to prevent such a referendum.
Actually secession, particularly if it takes oil-rich non-Kurdish territory seized from ISIS with it, might be a different matter altogether, and there has been long-standing concern this attempted secession could lead to a civil war within Iraq, which is to say, meaning Iraq could easily be facing another war is soon as the ISIS conflict is wrapped up.