First there was a meeting involving all of the major #Kurdish political parties in the Iraqi Kurdish region's capital of Irbil. Then the announcement was made by Masoud Barzani, the President of the Regional Government for #Kurdish Iraq. He took to Twitter to tell everyone that Iraq's autonomous Kurdish northern region will hold a #referendum for independence.

Where and when will this referendum be?

The referendum on whether to become an independent nation will be held on September 25th. It will take place in the three governorates that compose the Kurdish part of Iraq, Dahuk, Arbil and As-Sulaymaniyah. It will also take place in areas that are disputed between the Kurdish regional government and Iraq, but are currently under military control by the Kurds following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive started by ISIS.

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Current relations between Iraq and the Kurds

It is widely anticipated that the referendum out of Kurdish Iraq would result in a yes vote, as the Kurdish people have wanted their own independent nation for decades. The government of Iraq has yet to make an official statement on this announcement. This April, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did say that he respects the right of the Kurds to vote on independence but did not think it is the right time to hold a vote.

The Kurdish region of Iraq, which has 5 million people (Iraq's total population is about 36 million), has had the benefit of having a high degree of autonomy for many years. The Kurds have their own parliament and military, the Peshmerga. Kurdish relations with Iraq's government were trending in a negative direction before ISIS, with disagreements about how oil revenue was shared.

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Following ISIS's 2014 offensive, the Kurds have militarily taken control of some areas of Iraq after defeating ISIS, causing greater tension with Iraq's government.

Potential fallout from independence

Three of Iraq's powerful neighboring states, Iran, Turkey and Syria, all have significant and often restive Kurdish populations. All three of these countries have halted any moves towards Kurdish independence, with Turkey even viewing their Kurdish political movement as a terrorist organization. It would be unclear how these countries and their Kurdish populations would react to Iraq's Kurdish region gaining independence.

This would also put the United States in a potentially difficult situation depending on how Iraq would react to a successful Kurdish referendum. America has been allies with Iraq since they overthrew Saddam Hussein and helped to set up their current government and constitution. However, the U.S. has also spent its time post World War I alternating between being allies with or ignoring the Kurds. How America would handle a successful referendum and potentially Iraqi resistance to Kurdish independence is also an unknown.