February 24, 2018

USA urges Iraq's Kurds to call off independence referendum

17 September 2017, 12:59 | Marlene Fleming

Kurdish referendum will not be granted international legitimacy

Envoy to the Global anti-ISIS Coalition Brett Mc Gurk and Kirkuk Governor Nakmaldin Karim pose for

The non-binding referendum is planned to see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad on September 25.

"The UK calls on the Kurdistan Regional Government to seize this opportunity and to enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad".

An overwhelming majority of Kurdish MPs raised their hands to approve the plan, during the first session held by the parliament since it was suspended two years ago.

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it added.

"We still haven't heard a proposal that can be an alternative to the Kurdistan referendum", Barzani told a rally in the Kurdish region, referring to a proposal put forward by the United States and other Western envoys this week.

Turkey warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders this week that there would be "a price to pay" for going ahead with the vote.

The non-binding referendum will see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Iraq.

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Kurds across the Kurdistan Region and overseas gathered in a show of solidarity for the historic independence vote.

"We said before, but the time is now late for that, that if there was a better and more guaranteed alternative in place of referendum. then we welcome that".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country will hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide its response to the planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

The Baghdad parliament's decision earlier this week to oppose the referendum drew condemnation from deputies in Erbil. Irbil and Baghdad have always been in disagreement over oil revenues and contracts the Kurdistan region has signed with oil companies.

Barzani has been in dispute with Gorran since he blocked its parliamentarian speaker from Irbil and shuttered the legislature in 2015.

The referendum has become a potential flashpoint in the region, with Western powers anxious that it could fuel a conflict with Baghdad and distract attention from the war against Daesh.

Disagreements between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government have been high for years, as the ethnic Kurds consider the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin provinces as disputed areas and want them to be incorporated into their region. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.

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