Turkey urges Iraqi Kurds to call off vote on independence

13 September, 2017, 16:00 | Author: Lula Armstrong
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Mala Bakhtiyar, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), made the remarks in a press conference in Erbil after a trilateral meeting between his party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Gorran.

"Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority", Mohammed al-Karbouli, an Iraqi MP, said.

"The Kurdish parliament will definitely have a response to the resolution when it convenes on Thursday", said Hoshiyar Zebari, former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani.

He called on the Iraqi government to respect its agreement with the Kurdish government to keep the Iraqi army out of the political process.

The concept of an independent state is seen as a dream come true for a broad spectrum of Iraqi Kurds, some in the community fear the referendum could undermine plans to pursue the battle against IS.

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The Iraqi government is opposed to the Kurdish referendum calling it unconstitutional and unilateral.

The decision by the Iraqi parliament stipulated that the Kurdistan referendum is a "threat" against the unity of Iraq and that while the Iraqi constitution allows a referendum on a number of issues, such as Article 140 to address the disputed areas, it maintained that the constitution does not include a section that permits a referendum on separation.

Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, saying the region's stability depends on Iraq's unity and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.

It is the largest group of foreigners linked to ISIL to be held by Iraqi forces since they started expelling the militants from Mosul and other areas in northern Iraq previous year, an aid official said.

A Kurdish delegation met officials in Baghdad for a first round of talks in August concerning the referendum.

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Iraq's Kurds plan to hold the referendum on September 25 in three governorates that make up their self-ruled region as well as disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

In June, the United States voiced its support for the "aspirations" of the Kurdish people but said holding a referendum now was not the priority, citing instead the fight against IS and rebuilding the country.

A high-ranking Kurdish official told the Reuters news agency the parliamentary vote was non-binding and would not affect the vote.

But Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, who is organising the referendum, said from the disputed city of Kirkuk that the poll would be held because "all other bids" to secure Kurdish rights "have failed".

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