Kurdish leaders studying western delegation plan to delay referendum

Randolph Lopez
September 15, 2017

The Turkish foreign ministry warned in a statement that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders' call for a referendum was "worrying".

Earlier in the day, the parliament received a demand from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asking the lawmakers to vote to remove Najm al-Din Kareem from his post as governor of Kirkuk province, the state-run Iraqiya Channel said.

Iraqi Kurdish oil is exported through Turkey, a key economic lifeline for the region.

Kirkuk province is claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and Barzani's semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Turkey also welcomed the Iraqi parliament's decision to reject the KRG independence referendum slated for September 25.

Iran and Syria also oppose the vote, fearing it could fan separatism among their own Kurdish populations. They regard the city, just outside their Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, as their historical capital. "The dismiss of Kirkuk governor is illogical, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) strongly rejects this decision", Sa'di Ahmed Biera, PUK spokesman said in a statement. Baghdad has repeatedly criticized the move and the Iraqi Parliament has already voted against the referendum. "That is the only body that can remove him".

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During a press conference in Erbil, Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (IS), said he met with the leadership in Kurdistan to discuss other options for the independence vote.

"The escalating tactics this week by the Iraqis are causing a large public backlash, and will strengthen the Kurdish referendum enormously", Zebari said.

Kirkuk Now, a media outlet close to the PUK, reported on Thursday that the PUK office in Kirkuk voted to exclude Kirkuk from the Kurdish referendum.

Kurdish MPs in Iraq's parliament boycotted Thursday's vote, which was attended by 173 lawmakers in Baghdad. He explained that the law for the Iraqi provincial election passed in 2008 stipulated that Kirkuk, unlike the rest of the Iraqi provinces, would not come under the authority of the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister.

"We remain in our place, we are doing our work, and we are doing preparation for the referendum." the defiant governor said.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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