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The Kurdistan Regional Government pressed ahead with an independence referendum Monday. The referendum, primarily led by Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani, drew on long-standing Kurdish aspirations for statehood. Of other Kurdish political parties, only the Kurdistan Islamic Union unequivocally supported the referendum.Still, 65 votes were enough to endorse the referendum and confirm that it should take place on Sept. 25 .First, the decree that established the referendum was questioned even by many Kurds because Barzani passed it by executive order after his mandate had expired.The referendum was planned to include areas that, while only partially Kurdish, also include Arabs, Turkmen and Arabic-speaking religious minorities – only adding to its controversy. Since the referendum was to take place without the Arab district of Hawijah, which contains most of Kirkuk's Arab population and is still occupied by Daesh (ISIS), the Kirkuk vote will likely be a "Yes".Likewise, Arabs and Turkmen use the language of defense against aggressive Kurdish annexation because they, like the Kurds, view Kirkuk city as theirs.
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