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Iran, Turkey Concerned Over Iraqi Kurdish Referendum

17 September, 2017, 01:00 | Author: Glenda Knight
  • People celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Zakho Iraq

Despite all the obstacles, Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, is determined to hold a referendum on independence, an Armenian political analyst said on Friday.

Iraq's parliament on Thursday voted to dismiss the Kurdish governor of the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, in a move that could escalate tensions ahead of a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

The government of the United Kingdom issued a statement on Saturday stating it "does not support" the referendum for independence in the Kurdistan Region, and Erbil should engage in "serious" negotiations backed by the worldwide community with Baghdad "to address all the issues".

"We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate". While providing no details on the alternative, Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition said at a news conference in Irbil he had presented it to Kurdish leaders.

Washington opposes the referendum on the grounds it would weaken joint Arab-Kurdish military operations which have helped to send the Islamic State group into retreat in both Iraq and Syria.

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"So far, we haven't seen an alternative that can take the place of the referendum".

"The referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside", he added.

Sixty-five members of parliament voted in favour of holding the referendum for the Kurdistan region.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Friday that Barzani's decision not to postpone the referendum was "very wrong". The Western allies offered an alternative plan to try to avert a conflict between the oil-rich province and the central government in Baghdad. But relations with Baghdad have grown strained in recent years over oil and the disputed areas.

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

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