Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani attends a rally to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Duhuk, Iraq September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ari Jalal
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Iraq's Kurds are planning to vote on their independence in a Sept. 25 referendum, but the poll is more of a tool to pressure Baghdad than a step toward real secession, observers say. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani announced the referendum in June and has pushed ahead with the vote despite strong opposition from regional powers, the Kurds' international backers and the central government in Baghdad, which considers it unconstitutional.The Kurds – more than 30 million people spread across Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria – have long sought a state of their own.Pressure for the vote to be put off has mounted, with Washington urging the KRG to resolve its differences with Baghdad without seeking to divide Iraq.The United States argues that the vote will weaken Arab-Kurdish joint military operations, which have helped send Daesh into retreat in both Iraq and war-torn Syria.Rebwar Khudar of the KRG's Jamaa Islamiya opposition movement argued that the referendum was premature.In Irbil, many members of the Kurdish community are looking forward to having the chance to finally cast a vote for their people's independence.
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