While the referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not pleased the Iraqi government among other regional countries it was nonetheless a historic day for the Kurds.
Hours before the results of the Kurdish referendum were to be announced, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a stern warning to the Kurdish regional government in Iraq.
Turkey has bitter memories of the uprisings that the Kurdish people carried out against it between 1925 and 1935. This in turn limited both the territorial ambitions and foreign policy of Turkey. At the heart of its opposition to Kurdish statehood, however, is the real fear that its own sizeable Kurdish population would act up if the Iraq vote is endorsed universally.
At the moment, Erdogan is confident that no country, apart from Israel, would support the move. His confidence seems a bit misplaced because though the Syrian government has opposed the Iraq vote, it has already signalled its willingness to discuss autonomy for ethnic Kurds in Syria. Damascus of course is motivated by the lead role played by Syrian Kurds in the struggle against Islamic State militants.