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The leader of Iraq’s Kurdish north called on lawmakers in the self-rule region’s parliament to take the necessary steps toward holding a referendum on independence, a move that would likely spell the end of a unified Iraq. Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish territory has long been a beacon of stability and prosperity, while much of the rest of the country has been mired in violence and political turmoil. But the Sunni insurgent blitz that has engulfed Iraq in recent weeks has provided an opening to Iraq’s Kurds to seize long-disputed territory and a better chance than ever of achieving the goal of their own country.

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