Monday’s independence poll for the Kurdish north is supported by voters but opposed by Turkey, Baghdad and the west, which fear it will deepen instability

Below the Erbil citadel, where empire and insurrection have been fought out over the course of 5,000 years, Kurdish flags stake out the claim to a nascent era – that of a sovereign state.

Banners were gathering rapidly during the week in advance of a referendum on independence in the Kurdish north of Iraq due to take place on Monday. Hours ahead of the ballot, the citadel square and nearby markets were teeming with Kurds draped in nationalistic red, white and green, symbolising the struggle that they believe will deliver them a new nation from the rump of another.

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