Excitement has been building in Erbil, where veteran Kurdish president Massoud Barzani is popular, but 150 miles to the east, in Sulaimaniya, it’s business as usual
Its streets bustled with Sunday shoppers. Its teahouses brimmed with men who preferred playing dominoes to talking politics. And on boulevards and in town squares, there was hardly a Kurdish flag to be seen.
On the eve of a historic day in Kurdistan, the region’s two biggest hubs were a tale of two cities. In Erbil, the centre of Monday’s independence referendum, a festival feel that had built for the past week had taken over neighbourhoods. Flags fluttered from street poles, and car windows and shops were festooned with banners proclaiming the dawn of self-determination.