Baghdad is escalating tensions between the federal and Kurdish regional governments. Not only has Parliament demanded the government attempt to capture Kurdish held oilfields, the Iraqi military is now coordinating militarily with Iran. Turkey has so far resisted shutting the border down but could do so at any time. Also, flights into Kurdistan airports are drying up, but that could prove too costly for some foreign governments to maintain long.
Even though their neighbors appear to be overreacting, the Kurds have always maintained that the independence referendum is non-binding. The most they expect of it is to use it to demand dialogue with Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran over the peaceful transition to full independence. Turkey and Iran have large Kurdish populations, however, that their respective governments do not want considering independence for themselves.
A threatened march on contested Kirkuk or an outright operation by Iraqi forces already stationed in the province could mean the start of a long, civil war. The Kurds have a strong military force, the Peshmerga, willing to defend Kurdish interests. Should Turkey and Iran also involve themselves, it could encourage Kurdish rebel groups in those countries to escalate attacks.
Meanwhile in the United States, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer called for international support for the referendum. However, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is demanding the Kurds reject the referendum before he will begin talks.
In news unrelated to the referendum, security forces in Tarmiya, just north of Baghdad, have reportedly imposed a cordon which is preventing necessities from reaching civilians within the city.
Also, authorities reported that a total of 557 militants have been killed so far during operations to free Hawija from the Islamic State.
At least 94 were killed and 47 were wounded:
Seven soldiers were killed and 16 more were wounded in an hours-long attack near Ramadi. Eighteen civilians were wounded in the attack. At least 20 militants were killed.
Militants executed five civilians in Qaim.
An attack on the Farhatiya police station left two conscripts wounded and four suicide bombers dead.
Two civilians were wounded in a blast in Abu Ghraib.
Turkish airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) targets in northern Iraq left 13 guerrillas dead.
In Zarka, security forces killed 25 militants.
An airstrike killed seven militants in Hawija.
Six militants were killed in a strike in Anbar.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- ISIS Attacks Truck Drivers at Border; 114 Killed in Iraq – February 21st, 2018
- U.S. Soldier Among Eight Killed in Iraq – February 20th, 2018
- ISIS Ambushes Shi’ite Militiamen near Kirkuk; 31 Killed in Iraq – February 19th, 2018
- ISIS Widows Sentenced to Death, Prison; Eight Killed in Iraq – February 18th, 2018
- Another Mass Grave Found South of Mosul; 116 Killed in Iraq – February 17th, 2018