Should Kurdistan break off from Iraq? We asked young voters

Should Kurdistan break off from Iraq? We asked young voters

Should Kurdistan break off from Iraq? We asked young voters

Iraqi Kurds voted in an independence referendum Monday as tensions rose with Baghdad and neighbouring countries over the historic vote.

Also Sunday, Iran closed its airspace to flights taking off from Iraq's Kurdish region following a request from Baghdad.

Turkey said it did not recognize the referendum and would view its outcome as null and void, adding that the Iraqi Kurdish government was threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and the whole region. Kousha wrote that with the Islamic State in retreat, the vote could plunge Iraq into more war, especially over the fate of disputed Kirkuk, which is controlled by the Kurds and also has significant Arab and Turkmen populations.

The referendum has raised alarm in Iraq's neighbours - Turkey, Iran and Syria - over concerns it could encourage their own Kurdish minorities to break away.

"The Kurdish leadership now has the mandate to negotiate with Baghdad on an amicable separation, on a new relationship between Erbil and Baghdad", she told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.

The Kurdish referendum was preceded by a flurry of diplomatic contacts and phone calls. "We don't want to destabilise Iraq or Kurdistan. but certainly our aim is an independent Iraqi Kurdistan in the near future". "Discrimination between Iraqi citizens on the nationalist and ethnic foundation exposes Iraq to dangers known only by God", al-Abadi said from Baghdad.

Turkey renewed a bill on Saturday allowing the military to intervene in Iraq and Syria if faced with national security threats, a move seen as a final warning to Iraqi Kurds.

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"The land borders between Iran and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are open and these borders have not been closed", the ministry said, adding that only air borders between Iran and this region were now closed.

Independence referendum was held in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25.

Earlier, the NTV broadcaster said Turkey had blocked access into the country's southeast from northern Iraq at the Habur border gate.

The conflict has been largely peaceful until now, but in recent days both sides have threatened to use military force to protect their interests.

Baghdad has declared the vote unconstitutional and parliament voted on Monday to demand Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "deploy forces" in areas disputed with the Kurds. "They have to register first and then vote", he said.

"I will not vote, the referendum is not good, and it could be unsafe because of the threat from Turkey and Iran", said a shop owner in Sulaimaniya, Ali Ahmed.

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