The officials of Iraqi Kurdistan
held a referendum on September 25, 2017, to determine whether the
people of the currently autonomous region wanted to separate from Iraq
or not. The referendum angered the Iraqi government and neighbouring
countries. The majority of the people voted ”YES” in the referendum
but the reactions from Iraqi government and the rest of the neighbours
have been extremely outrageous for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan
However, after the referendum took place the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan has drastically changed. The Iraqi government banned all international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan‘s
airports and threatened to take other serious measures including
sanctions. Various people from different sides gave many hateful
speeches which worried the Kurdistan‘s people
specifically people in Kirkuk and surrounding towns. Furthermore, both
the Turkish and Iranian governments moved their armies to the border of
Iraqi Kurdistan and conducted military drills
and together with the Iraqi army threatened to take over the
borderlands. Subsequently, the Iranian government closed its shared
border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan and the Turkish government has claimed to close down its only border gate with Iraqi Kurdistan soon.
In a rapid attack on October 16-17, the Iraqi army alongside militia
groups took control over Kirkuk city and all other disputed areas under Kurdistan‘s forces control. Additionally, Kurdistan‘s
media propaganda has worsened the situation. These actions have caused
mass displacement of Kurdish and Sunni Arab families from the disputed
areas. Over 5 million people in both the disputed areas and Iraqi Kurdistan proper feel extremely uncertain about their future. The people of both Iraq and Kurdistan are asking all sides to stop all military advances and media propaganda to prevent war between Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdistan. Following what had happened in disputed areas, the relationship between the Iraqi Kurdistan‘s
political parties has deteriorated rapidly. The party affiliated media
have started propaganda and accusatory campaigns against the other
parties which leads to a lot of chaos and uncertainty at the moment.
Many people worry that a civil war might break out.
The international community has stayed silent except for a strong condemnation and refusal of the Iraqi Kurdistan‘s referendum as well as sending out confusing messages which have deeply disappointed the people of disputed areas and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Christian Peacemaker Teams – Iraqi Kurdistan
(CPT) has written a more detailed reflection about the referendum and
the reactions of the Iraqi government, international community and
neighbouring countries, which you can read here.
Following the military actions that took place in Kirkuk and other
disputed areas, CPT has written a Call for peace mobilization, which you
can find here.
Furthermore, CPT helped create and co-signed a Statement of the Iraqi
Civil Society organizations calling for dialogue, which you might read here.
We will continue sharing updates and our perspectives regarding the current situation in Iraqi Kurdistan through our website and social media platforms.