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Iraqi Kurdistan’s risky independence referendum

Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani may seek leverage from Sunni Arabs to balance opposition from Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara.
A man takes a picture of his daugther near the Kurdistan flag at the castle of Erbil, Iraq, July 29,2017. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily - RTS19OL9

While Iraqi Kurds are expected to overwhelmingly vote their preference for an independent state on Sept. 25, it is less clear how Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani will manage opposition from just about everyone else. 

The referendum does not compel Barzani to declare an independent Iraqi Kurdish state. Barzani may consider a yes vote as leverage to negotiate with Baghdad and neighboring powers from a greater position of strength.

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