The sun rises over Erbil: Kurdistan is preparing for a referendum

"The matter is complicated as it affects several conflicts at once. First, the relations with the central government. The declaration of independence is a blow to Iraq's territorial integrity and prospects for its statehood. Saddam Hussein provided for the country's unity through strict authoritarian and armed methods, but his removal and foreign military presence in the territory of the country, while solving one problem of eliminating the dictator, created new ones. The power of the center over the regions was undermined, and the Kurds launched a struggle for independence under this circumstance, " said Askar Nursha, Head of the Almaty office of the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

According to the expert, Iraq was offered various options for federalization as well as the impasse, and the Kurds were only nominally submitted to the center for over ten years. This problem was exacerbated by the DAESH factor, which was made an equally destructive blow to the Iraqi statehood.

"The Kurds have postponed the struggle for secession, for the time being, focusing on the fight against the DAESH. This struggle strengthened them internally, and they received support from external players who needed allies. However, the present situation was feared by many, the Kurds refuse to wait for any longer " added Askar Nursha.

Holding a referendum in Iraq could jeopardize the integrity of other countries with significant Kurdish communities. It is primarily concerns Turkey, Syria and Iran.

"The Kurds" acquiring their state is perceived as a threat by other countries in the region, where the Kurds in the compact communities, fearing that their local Kurds will follow the same path, and the referendum would create a dangerous precedent. Therefore, they are in opposition and may resort to stricter measures in this policy," stressed Nursha.

He also believes that the Kurds are an essential card in the game of the leading powers in the region. Providing support to them, they expect to receive a powerful leverage to influence the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general.

"The political map of the region may change, and the one who manages these processes keeps the keys to the future of the region. For example, US support for the Kurds poison the relations between the US and Turkey, contributing to their deterioration and Ankara's seeking for ways to counter the US policies in the region regarding the Kurdish issue, " the expert believes.

Another important aspect is the fight for control over oil and gas deposits led by the Kurds. And this is a part of the geo-economic struggle in the region.

"As a result, the Kurdish factor affects the interests of not only the central government in Iraq but also the neighboring regional powers and involved the US and a number of their European allies in this game. Together they create an explosive mixture that can push the strategies of Iraq, Turkey, and Iran to completely unexpected trajectories, " summed up the expert.

We will see what will happen after the referendum, which will be held on September 25. This date can be turned into a turning point in the history of the entire region.

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