Iraq Kurds in historic independence vote in defiance of Baghdad

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ARBIL, Iraq: Iraqi Kurds voted in an independence referendum Monday in defiance of Baghdad which has warned of “measures” to defend Iraq’s unity and threatened to deprive their region of lifeline oil revenues. The non-binding vote on the Kurds’ long-cherished dream of independence, initiated by veteran leader Massud Barzani, has angered not only the federal government but also neighboring Turkey and Iran, concerned it could stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities. The United States and other Western nations have also raised concerns, saying the vote could hamper the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group in which cooperation between Baghdad and the Kurds has been key. Initial results are expected to be announced 24 hours after polls close. An overwhelming. “Yes” outcome is expected, but Kurdish officials have said there are no plans for an immediate declaration of independence.

AFP

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