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Iran reacts to Kurdish referendum
January 19 2018, 01:41 | Irvin Gilbert
Main opposition CHP says gov't should be 'cool-headed' on KRG referendum
IRBIL, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's Kurds hope Monday's non-binding referendum on independence marks the start of a peaceful, negotiated break with Baghdad, but it may have instead placed them on a new collision course with Iraq and its neighbors.
Reuters reports that "final results were expected within 72 hours".
The vote was held peacefully, but the coming days could bring escalating unrest as the Kurds press ahead toward independence, something opposed by virtually the entire worldwide community, including their close ally, the United States. In Kirkuk, the epicenter of the territorial dispute, the governor imposed a nighttime curfew after the vote.
Kurds showed off their ink-stained fingers as they left polling stations on September 25, showing they had voted.
Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region kicked off an independence referendum on Monday in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and urgent calls from the global community to scrap the vote.
He also told Iraqi Kurd authorities to ensure that the work of the United Nations mission in Iraq "will be allowed to continue unhindered".
The vote went ahead despite objections from officials in Baghdad.
He also pledged to start negotiations with Baghdad officials as soon as the result of the votes is known.
The decision to carry out the referendum sparked threatening remarks by Turkey, which took special security measures and its Parliament reiterated that it will not recognize the independence exercise, in addition to extending the deployment of troops in Iraq and Syria for a year.
Earlier Sunday, the Kurdish region's president Masoud Barzani pledged the vote would be held despite pressure from Baghdad and the global community.
The zones disputed between the Kurds and the federal government in Baghdad are not part of the three provinces in northern Iraq that form the autonomous Kurdish area.
Turkey is home to the largest Kurdish population at an estimated 14 million.
Iraq and other neighbours of the Kurds "have to understand that we have done this step by step", Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman told Al Jazeera. "We don't want to destabilise Iraq or Kurdistan. but certainly our aim is an independent Iraqi Kurdistan in the near future".
Erdogan also said Turkey's Habur border crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan would be closed.
Even though the vote is nonbinding, the Kurdish leadership sees it as a way to send a signal to Baghdad about the region's desire for independence.