Iraqi forces use a tractor to damage a poster of Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani on the southern outskirts of Kirkuk on October 16, 2017. AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, the driving force behind last month's independence vote, finds himself isolated at home and abroad weeks after he scored a major victory with a resounding "yes" at the polls.Iraqi President Fouad Massoum, a Kurdish member of a party long at odds with Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party who supported a U.N.-backed push for dialogue, said the independence referendum triggered the assault on Kirkuk.Barzani, who saw a "yes" vote as a step closer toward the dearly cherished dream of Kurdish statehood, campaigned relentlessly prior to the referendum but has since slipped out of view.The son of iconic Kurdish nationalist leader Mulla Mustafa Barzani and the head of the KDP since 1979, Barzani has long been the main face of demands for Kurdish self-determination.Many Kurds believe that two men – former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari and Kirkuk governor Najmeddine Karim – were behind Barzani's decision to hold the referendum.Barzani believed both allies would support his march toward independence and failed to read between the lines, he said.
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