Tuesday, 26 September, 2017

Kurds reject calls to delay independence referendum

Iraqi Kurds celebrate while urging people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS
Isaac Mcdaniel | 17 September, 2017, 00:59

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers voted earlier yesterday to hold the referendum on September 25, in the face of bitter opposition from Baghdad and protests from neighboring Iran and Turkey, which fear it will fan separatism among their own Kurdish minorities.

The region's vice-president Jaafar Aimenky, who chaired the session, announced the poll would go ahead after 65 out of 68 lawmakers present voted in favour.

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.

The White House issued a statement following the Kurdish vote, calling on the Kurds to call off the vote and "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad".

On Friday, however, Mr Barzani dismissed alternatives offered by the USA to avert the referendum.

The Kurdish Peshmerga have said that they will continue their contribution to the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS including with the Iraqi forces despite the vote later this month.

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The parliament met in the KRG capital, Erbil, in northern Iraq.

Britain is opposed to a planned referendum for the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, saying it could risk instability in the Middle East at the time of a fight against terrorism. Mr Barzani says the referendum's "legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide what response to take over a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

Thursday, a senior US official announced that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum.

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

Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.

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