United States announces opposition to Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum

Esther Moore
September 17, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a live interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber late Friday that Turkey would announce its plan regarding the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) independence referendum in the near future.

An Iraqi interior ministry statement described the attack as "terrorist aggression" and did not link it to the tension caused by the Kurdish plan to hold the vote, on September 25.

"The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas".

The White House urged the KRG to "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad", over the issue.

The 111-member parliament in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil had not convened for two years over disputes between political parties.

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

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On Friday, however, Mr Barzani dismissed alternatives offered by the U.S. to avert the referendum. Iraq now eyes a full liberation of its western and northern territories from Daesh. It has several military bases in the Kurdistan region and also holds considerable leverage over the KRG due to its large economic footprint and the fact that it is the only major outlet for Kurdish oil exports.

The Gorran (Change) party and the Islamic Group, which have called for postponing the referendum to an unspecified date, boycotted the session, the parliament's first since October 2015. Mr Barzani says the referendum's "legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside".

Earlier Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country plans to hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide what response to take over the Kurdish referendum, accused leaders of Iraq's autonomous region of "serious political inaptitude" for going ahead with plans to hold the vote. Iraq's central government rejected the referendum as unconstitutional on Tuesday.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

Moves toward independence are strongly opposed by Baghdad.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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