Was the Kurdish referendum in Iraq a mistake?

Was the Kurdish referendum in Iraq a mistake?
From Al Jazeera - April 6, 2018

In this week's UpFront, we ask the Kurdistan Regional Government representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman about the aftermath of the Kurdish referendum and whether her government is any closer to independence.

And in the Arena, Sharon Hom, executive director of the NGO Human Rights in China, and Qinduo Xu, senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution think-tank, debate the end of term limits for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Headliner: Has the Kurdish independence movement failed?

Six months after the Kurdish region of Northern Iraqvoted for independencein a controversial referendum, the region is no closer to establishing its own country. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) initiated the referendum, in which more than 90 percent voted "yes" to secession. Without any signs of change, some in the regional government are blaming the situation on Baghdad and foreign governments.

"The people of Kurdistan are being punished," says Rahman.

The KRG did not expect the "unsophisticated" reaction to the referendum by the US and Europe, says Rahman. "With every statement they made against the referendum," she explains, "they were emboldening our neighbours and Baghdad to think the Kurds were alone and that they could punish us."

According to Rahman, Baghdad continues to cut off the region's budget and has left them to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and accommodate 1.8 million displaced people and Syrian refugees.

While she says there's been some improvement in the relationship with Baghdad in recent weeks, Rahman also argues that the budget issue and Iraq's failure to establish a federal and pluralistic democracy is what led to the KRG's pursuit for independence.

Arena: China: Is President Xi Jinping the new Mao?

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