Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 16, 2017.

Kurdistan is a region straddling northern Iraq, Western Iran, eastern Turkey and parts of Syria and Armenia. Some 30 million Kurds inhabit the region, and have struggled for decades recognition, influence, and an independent nation-state.

The  Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq held a referendum for independence on September 25, 2017, which passed overwhelmingly in favor.

Israel was the lone regional voice supporting an independent Kurdistan, while the U.S., U.K. and Russia favored a unified Iraq as well. "A stable and unified Kurdish entity in the middle of this swamp, is not a bad idea," Netanyahu said in September. The prime minister added that while Israel sees the Kurdish guerillas PKK as a terrorist organization, "it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state."

After the referendum, the Iraqi government led a military campaign to retake areas held by the Kurds, the city of Kirkuk becoming the initial flashpoint. After several military defeats the Kurds have largely backed down in their bid for independence and have yet to declare their own state.