The Wall Street Journal reports: Senior officials from the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan are in Washington laying the groundwork for a formal bid for independence, despite opposition from the Obama administration.
Key aides to Kurdish President Massoud Barzani have met staff from the State Department, White House and Congress over the past two days, describing what the Kurds say is the “new reality” in Iraq. Numerous territories in the west of the country have fallen in recent weeks to the militant group Islamic State, which recently changed its name from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.
Mr. Barzani is moving to hold a referendum among Iraq’s Kurdish population, after which the government in the Kurdish capital of Erbil could seek to formally secede, his top aides told a gathering of reporters Thursday.
“If we can’t live together, we will go for divorce,” said Fuad Hussein, Mr. Barzani’s chief of staff, who met Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday. “It is now about a new reality.”
A move toward Kurdish independence would represent a repudiation of Obama administration policy, which seeks to maintain a united Iraq. U.S. officials worry that Kurdish independence could fuel secessionist bids by Kurdish territories in other parts of the Middle East, particularly Turkey and Syria. [Continue reading…]