Kurdish fighter in Iraq (file)
Kurdish fighter in Iraq (file)Reuters

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq's north reportedly intends to hold a vote this year, on whether or not to secede from Iraq and gain independence.

KRG president Masoud Barzani has been said to have told diplomats about the impending referendum in the Kurdish region.

"A referendum is the only way for the world to know what the people of Kurdistan want and how they will determine their future," read a statement from Barzani's office published by The New Arab.

"Fulfilling the will of the Kurdistani people will take place in the appropriate time and in a non-violent, peaceful manner," added the statement.

Around five million people live in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, and from Barzani's statement, it appears a vote will be held to have them choose to secede from Baghdad.

A similar referendum was held in 2005, when an overwhelming majority came out in favor of secession. Events in the hectic region have prevented that referendum from being realized.

However, Barzani clarified that the KRG will not take by force areas under dispute between Iraq and his government.

"We have always stressed it would be the people of the liberated regions themselves to decide their future though a referendum, and their wishes will be respected," he said, calling for coexistence between the Kurds and the Iraqi Arabs.

Israel has held ties with the Kurds, with a report last August indicating that the Jewish state imports three-quarters of its oil from the Kurds in Iraq.