Kurdistan is part of Iraq, which is located in the north and north-east of the country. It has extensive autonomy, received in 1991 with the mediation of the United Nations as a result of an armed conflict with the central authorities. The official autonomous status was restored in 2005 after the overthrow of the Hussein regime in Iraq.
The principal issue for the region is the control over the Kirkuk province, in which oil deposits are located. Oil is the source of the economic well-being of Kurdistan, so the issue of control of Kirkuk is a "trump card" in the relations between Erbil and Baghdad.
The titular ethnic group of the autonomy is the Kurds. The main difference between the Kurds and the Arabs (the majority of the population of the country) is, first of all, language. Kurds profess Islam of the Sunni type, whereas most Arabs in Iraq are Shiites. The education system in Kurdistan supports the Kurdish language, which has an official status in the region. Kurdistan has the right to have its own paramilitary formations ("Peshmerga"), which are the prototype of the Kurdish regular army. In addition, the regional party system is characterized by the complete dominance of ethno-regional political parties. They successfully participate in elections both at the regional and national levels, receiving parliamentary mandates.
The current situation in the autonomous community is characterized by a high degree of tension. Due to the disagreements over the distribution of oil revenues, the Kurdistan government announced the holding of a referendum on independence. The referendum was held on September 25, 2017, and 92.73% voted for the independence of the region. The Iraqi central government publicly announced the non-recognition of the results of the referendum and began blockading the region (a ban on financial operations and air traffic). Protests against the results of the referendum were also made by Iran and Turkey. Under conditions of external isolation, the government of Iraqi Kurdistan was forced to agree to freeze the results of the referendum and to resume dialogue with Baghdad in exchange for lifting the blockade.