Monday, June 18, 2018

Iraqi Kurdish leader urges independence referendum

BAGHDAD — After more than 100 Sunni militants were killed in battles with the Iraqi army Thursday and late Wednesday, a top Kurdish leader called on regional lawmakers Thursday to lay the groundwork for a referendum on independence, a vote that would likely mean the end of a unified Iraq.

The recent blitz by Sunni militants across northern and western Iraq has given the country's 5 million Kurds their best chance ever to move closer to a decades-old dream of their own state.

But the Kurds still face considerable opposition from many in the international community.

Speaking to the regional legislature Thursday, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, told lawmakers to set up an electoral commission to "hurry up" and prepare for "a referendum on self-determination."

"We will be in a better position and we will have better (political) weapons in our hands. But how we will do this?" he said. "What kind of steps will there be? For this, you have to study the issue and take steps in this direction. It is time to decide our self-determination and not wait for other people to decide for us."

Information from the New York Times was used in this report.

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