Kurds began casting ballots on Monday in a historic referendum on independence from Iraq despite vigorous opposition from the country’s central government as well as regional and world powers. Starting at about 8 a.m., church bells tolled and imams implored Kurds to go out and vote over mosque loud speakers when polls opened across the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Local news showed prominent Kurdish figures casting their ballots, proudly displaying the purple ink on their fingers indicating they had fulfilled what they described as a national duty that will begin a slow process of secession from the Iraqi state. The poll is expected to produce an overwhelming “yes” vote for independence that many Kurds see as the culmination of a century-long and bloody struggle for self-determination. But […]