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Middle East Focus is a weekly podcast featuring talk and analysis on U.S. foreign policy, contemporary political and social issues in the Middle East, and the arts and culture of region. It is produced by the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. For more information visit

Oct 5, 2017

On September 25 Iraq's Kurdish region pressed ahead with a controversial independence referendum. It had a high voter turnout of 73%, 93% of whom voted in favor of independence. The referendum is technically non-binding but it has sparked a political crisis with threats of action against the Kurdish region from its neighbors, Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq's central government. The United States also opposed the vote. MEI experts Randa Slim, Gonul Tol, and Ahmad Majidyar join host Paul Salem to discuss the implications of the vote and what happens next.