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Kurdistan referendum leaves Iraq's Turkmens in quandary

Faced with the prospect of Kurdish independence, Iraq’s Turkmens are divided on what is best for their future.
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ERBIL, Iraq — As Iraqi Kurdistan heads to a controversial independence referendum on Sept. 25, divisions are running deep in the Turkmen community, which, like the Kurds, has claims over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Turkey's official policy terms Kirkuk “a Turkmen city,” and many Turks generally think that all Turkmens are on the same page. But the reality on the ground is different. To start with, the Turkmens in Erbil and Kirkuk differ in their stances on the prospect of Kurdish independence. Some Turkmens insist on the territorial integrity of Iraq, but others argue that cohabitation with the Kurds is easier. The Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), the largest party representing the Turkmens, is opposed to the referendum, while the Turkmen Development Party, founded by a group that split from the ITF, backs the referendum, arguing that Kurdistan is already a de facto state dealing directly with foreign countries.

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