By: Ed Hitchins
Amid tensions of instability and security, millions of Kurds in northern Iraq head to the polls to cast their ballot and determine their future.
Prospective voters lined up this morning in the 11 disputed regions, including Nineveh Abril and Kirkuk, with the question, “Do you want the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistani area’s outside the region’s administration to become an independent state.”
The Kurds already have self-governance, but a ‘yes’ vote would be a giant leap toward becoming fully independent.
— Hiwa Afandi (@HiwaAfandi) September 24, 2017
Former Al-Jahzeera correspondent and Humber journalism professor Omar Al-Saleh says that whatever the outcome, the movement of statehood still faces an uphill battle.
“It’s guaranteed to be a ‘yes’ vote. But that doesn’t mean there will be a Kurdistan country right away. Where would the borders be? It would take months, if not years.”
Both Iraq and Turkey have said they will dispute the results, with the majority of the international community hesitant to endorse the results given the timing of such an historic event.
This comes as the latest event in a region that has been marred with instability and violence since the conclusion of the Iraq war in 2003.
Cities such as Kirkuk have long been disputed due to the Peshmerga, or Kurdish armies, pushing back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and succeeding where the Federal Iraqi military failed.
In doing so, they also pushed and displaced Arab residents from almost 13 villages recaptured in a span between October 2014 and November 2015, according to Amnesty International.
Al-Saleh says events such as these could be a major hurdle for continued stability in the region.
“Externally, the impact would be huge. There are Kurds on all different sides of the border with Turkey and Iran. The Iraqi government has already said they would take all necessary steps to protect the country, including military action,” says Al-Sadeh
Al-Saleh says that Canada’s role on the ground wouldn’t be affected just yet.
“On the surface, it wouldn’t have much of an impact on Canada in regards with their troops, it won’t be as quick.
“However, it will impact Canada in the longer run. Canada does have relations with the Iraqi government and they would have to make a choice about whether or recognize the new country. It’s either with us or against us, It’s that black and white,” says Al-Sadeh.