Iraqi Kurdistan Voted to Secede, Now What?

Cut Off From Neighbors, Kurdistan's Future in Doubt

Last week, Iraqi Kurdistan voted to secede from Iraq. The referendum was not even close. On 72% turnout, over 92% voted in favor of independence. President Barzani says that there is no going back to Baghdad after the vote.

What’s not clear is where Kurdistan is going, as Iraq is vowing to bring the region back under direct rule, and Turkey and Iran are both suggesting they could join a war against Kurdistan to prevent them getting away.

Such a war is likely a long-term proposition, but in the meantime, Kurdistan is cut off from the outside world. Airports are closed, with all airlines agreeing to halt flights into Kurdistan, and Iran and Turkey have both agreed to close the border crossings.

To make matters worse, the European world hasn’t shown any interest in an independent Kurdistan. The only country that’s been at all supportive is Israel, and that’s been a hindrance in the region, with Turkey trying to position Israel’s support as proof an independent Kurdistan is a Mossad plot.

Kurdish officials are likely to continue to try to get some support internationally, wherever they can find it, and trying to export oil to whatever extent they can amid a de facto global blockade.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of