Kurdistani referendum on independence
The referendum on independence that is taking place in the Kurdistan territory on September 25 is keeping the political community in Iraq and beyond very engaged due to its importance to Iraq and other regional countries worried about the Kurdish issue. Kurdish officials stressed that the referendum will be held in all Kurdistani territory rather than just the recognised Kurdistan Autonomous Region, and it will include all the inhabitants (Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, Yazidis, Shabak and Christians). The referendum is based on geography rather than nationalism, which means that Kurds living in other parts of Iraq, mostly Faili Kurds, are not included in this referendum. Explicit rejection of the referendum has already come from the Iraqi government, and from Turkey, Iran and the Arab League. Yet no democratic state can reject this referendum and justify it. Democracy and democratic practices are relatively new to the Middle East, where intellectual politics remain within the parameters of the traditional political culture that prevailed before the emergence of nationalism and homelands with the beginning of the 20th century. The holding of the referendum in Kurdistan is a test of democracy in Iraq. The Kurdish leaders are aware that they have a long and difficult road ahead, and that an internal or external intervention at some stage is a real possibility.