The region, which had enjoyed unprecedented autonomy for years, has been in turmoil since the independence referendum a month ago prompted military and economic retaliation from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.
Turkey has been battling a three-decade insurgency in its largely Kurdish southeast and fears the referendum will inflame separatist tensions at home.
It seems almost inevitable Iraqi Kurdistan will separate from the rest of Iraq – but going it alone will be hugely difficult.
Iraq considers the vote unconstitutional, especially as it was held not only within official KRG territory itself but also on disputed territory held by Kurds elsewhere in northern Iraq.
The Kurds consider Monday’s referendum to be a historic step in the generations-old quest for a state of their own.
The voting is open to all registered residents, Kurds and non-Kurds, in the Kurdish-held areas in northern Iraq aged 18 or over.