Inside Story

Can Iraq’s Kurdish region gain independence?

Iraq’s Kurds say they are going ahead with plans to hold a referendum on independence in September.

The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq says the date to hold an independence referendum has been set and will not be changed. 

That was in response to a request by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to postpone the referendum.

During a telephone call on Thursday, Tillerson told Masoud Barzani that he favours dialogue between the Kurdish region and the Iraqi government.

The United States and other Western nations are worried the vote could lead to renewed conflict with the Iraqi government in Baghdad and distract the Kurds from fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Turkey, Iran and Syria, which also have large Kurdish populations, all oppose an independent Kurdish state.

Could this vote lead to an independent Kurdish state? What would that mean for Iraq and the Middle East?

Presenter: Imran Khan


Dindar Zebari – deputy minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government

Ahmed Rushdi – director of the House of Iraqi Expertise Foundation

Dlawer Ala’Aldeen – president of the Middle East Institute