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Decentralization push sparks fears of division in Iraqi Kurdistan

Sulaimaniyah’s pursuit of enhanced self-governance has stoked concerns over the Iraqi Kurds’ hard-won unity as economic woes strain their autonomous region.
Members of the new cabinet of the Kurdistan parliament headed by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani pose for a family photo, in Erbil, Iraq July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari - RC1B64599A60
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Is the Kurds’ unity in danger in Iraqi Kurdistan, the autonomous region they managed to build after decades of grueling struggle? Fears of an internal rift have grown over a demand for enhanced self-governance powers by the province of Sulaimaniyah, hot on the heels of tensions between Kurdistan’s two main political parties over the control of a strategic area in the region.

There are fears that the move could have wider implications for the regional government's dealings with the central government in Baghdad, with some Kurdish politicians warning it could threaten the region's semi-autonomous status.

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