While the referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not pleased the Iraqi government among other regional countries it was nonetheless a historic day for the Kurds. Expectations, considering the high turnout rate during the voting process, are that majority of Kurdish people have cast a ‘yes’ vote in favour of an independent Kurd state. However, the referendum has already made the regional politics very tense, it’s result will add to that.

Whereas the ‘yes’ vote will be the dawn of a new era for the Kurdish people, for all other stakeholders it will be the moment of crisis. Along with Iraq, two other countries, Turkey and Iran have rejected the referendum. While Iraq’s paranoia is evident that in case of an independent Kurd state, it will lose oil-rich areas, Turkey and Iran fear that the results of the vote will encourage the Kurdish minorities in these countries to go for similar options.

Therefore, Iraq has already sent a message to KRG as it has announced to conduct joint military exercises with Turkey near to Kurdish territory. Iran also followed in the footsteps of Iraq and Turkey by launching military exercises along its borders with the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

Whether any such military manoeuvres will weaken the resolution and determination of Kurdish population and that of their leadership? The answer to this question is a complicated one, as some other factors will also play a significant role in the outcome of the referendum. Particularly important to keep in mind is the role international community has to play. In a statement issued by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, concerns were raised about the “potentially destabilizing effects” of yesterday’s referendum in the Kurd region of Iraq. Although the U.S, Iran, and Turkey called the voting illegitimate, the Iraqi Kurds were determined on sending a powerful message, through the voting process, as a separate political entity with culture, language, and history of their own.

However the military exercises and threatening messages sent by neighbouring countries give this development an ominous edge. With violence threatened and an amicable solution not immediately obvious, the Middle East is in for some tense times. To avoid another catastrophe in the region the world community needs to be vigilant and perceptive to the legitimate demands of the Kurd population. In case of neglect on the part of international community, the region will observe another bloody conflict for which Middle East is not yet ready.