The Iraqi parliament voted on September 12 to reject the Kurdish independence referendum planned for Monday, September 25. Kurdish lawmakers in Baghdad walked out of the parliamentary session before the vote and issued statements opposing it afterward. The vote authorized Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to "take all measures" to maintain national unity. The same day, Kurdistan region President Massoud Barzani announced that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces will defend themselves if attacked. However, should the referendum proceed despite the parliamentary vote, the possibility of violence remains remote.
Autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan officially includes three provinces (Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah) protected by a security force (Peshmerga) independent from the Iraqi government. The people of Iraqi Kurdistan largely support the idea of independence, but the referendum will face major challenges from within the Kurdish, Iraqi, Iranian, and Turkish governments.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor the situation.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel. While Iraqi Kurdistan is relatively far from the frontlines of the campaign against the Islamic State and has generally been more secure than the rest of the country, the risk of intra-Kurdish clashes suggests additional caution should be adopted for the foreseeable future.