By Jean Marc Mojon
Many Iraqi Kurds hailed last week's announcement of a September referendum on independence as historic, but major obstacles will remain on the path to statehood after an expected landslide "yes".
The autonomous region is still at war with the Islamic State group, it hosts a displaced population of more than a million and its once promising economy has taken a double hit from conflict and low oil prices.
The northern region's leader, Massud Barzani, announced on June 7 that a referendum would be held in Kurdish areas of Iraq on September 25 to ask voters if they want a separate state.
The vote is non-binding, but sets the wheels in motion for an independent state that has been gestating since Iraq's Kurds gained autonomy from Baghdad on the back of the 1991 Gulf War.
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