Western officials are trying to avert the next war in Iraq

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AS THE jihadists of the so-called Islamic State (IS) retreat, the Arab and Kurdish forces allied against it in Iraq are turning their arms towards each other. Rather than celebrate victory, Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, called a referendum on independence for September 25th, not just in his constitutionally recognised autonomous zone but in the vast tracts that his forces seized from IS. Protesting against this threat to Iraq’s integrity, Haider al-Abadi, the country’s president, gathered his commanders at Makhmour, opposite the Kurdish front lines. If the referendum went ahead, Kurdistan “might disappear”, he warned. Hoping to prevent their allies from sparring, Western mediators have stepped in. But as The Economist went to press, Mr Barzani remained committed to h