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United States urges Iraqi Kurdish leader to call off statehood referendum

17 September, 2017, 00:48 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Kurdish men march in support of the independence referendum carrying

On Tuesday, Iraq's parliament in Baghdad rejected the independence referendum as unconstitutional and called it a threat to peace in a vote boycotted by Kurdish lawmakers. The party is for independence at the right time, but says the Kurdistan region should first put its domestic house in order and pass reforms before striving for independence.

Iraq's Kurds plan to hold the vote on September 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region as well as disputed areas like Kirkuk that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad.

Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition calling on Kurdish leaders in Iraq to halt the referendum in favor of an alternative.

The neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries.

"The United States does not support the Kudistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the United States in its reaction said the plan for an independence referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region will distract from efforts to defeat Islamic State.

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

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it added. But relations with Baghdad have grown strained in recent years over oil and the disputed areas.

The governor of Kirkuk was sacked by the federal parliament earlier this week over his support for a referendum.

"Since the adoption of the new Iraqi constitution in 2005, successive governments in Baghdad have violated the constitution, and it is clear to the people of Kurdistan that Baghdad will never implement key provisions of the constitution". While Baghdad recognizes Kurdistan's autonomy, the precise boundary between the region and the rest of Iraq is unclear.



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