Sheladiz, Iraqi Kurdistan
Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag paper
56 x 84 cm
4/5 edition (+ AP)
Scaffolding rests on a wall against the backdrop of the Qandil mountains (a section of the Zagros mountain range which spans Iran, Iraq and Turkey).
In late September 2017, the Kurdish Provisional Government (KGP) held a referendum asking the Kurdish people if they should declare independence from the Iraqi state. Many local activists and opposition party members believed that Iraqi Kurdistan was not ready for independence at this time as it doesn't have a strong framework to be a function modern independent state. Many also believed that it was also the KPG leadership's way of holding onto the oil and resource rich region of Kirkuk which they had acquired during the fight against ISIL.
Despite this, the referendum vote overwhelmingly was in favour of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Within days, the central Iraqi government began sealing the air and land borders to northern Iraq with the help of Turkey and Iran. They then demanded control of all international airports in the region controlled by the KGP as well as control over the city of Kirkuk.
Just before the vote, a day or two after this photo was taken, Turkish airstrikes on the nearby villages of Sidan and Kera Derin killed 7 civilians.
The Turkish military regularly bombs sites in northern Iraq from bases in Turkey and Iraq. It is part of the ongoing armed conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish Workers' Party (or PKK) who seek Kurdish autonomy inside Turkey. One of the strategies of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish government is to bomb civilian targets near areas with PKK bases in an effort to create 'friction' between the militants and locals. It is worth noting that hostilities resumed after a ceasefire when the majority rule of Erdogan's party, the AKP, in Turkish politics was threatened by resurgent popular Kurdish politicians. Airstrikes on PKK targets followed a crackdown on Kurdish political parties in Turkey in 2015.