Kurds will hold referendum, the West objects
ERBIL: The Parliament of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region approved a plan on Friday to hold a referendum on independence on 25 September, ignoring opposition from Baghdad and the wider region as well as Western concerns that the vote could spark fresh conflict.
Parliament reconvened in Erbil, the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, where an overwhelming majority of the Kurdish lawmakers taking part backed the plan.
Hours after the decision, the White House publicly called for the first time on the KRG to cancel the referendum, warning that the vote was “distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS (Islamic State) and stabilize the liberated areas.”
A White House statement urged the KRG to “enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate.”
The regional parliament’s decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the US, which has provided critical military aid to the KRG’s fight against Islamic State, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum.
The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended nearly two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.
“We’ve been waiting more than 100 years for this,” said Omed Khoshnaw, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDR) of KRG President Massoud Barzani. California lawmakers voted to become a sanctuary state, tussled over hot- button environmental issues and urged other states to refuse to cooperate with President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission as their legislative year ended early on Saturday. The majority Democratic lawmakers headed back to their districts having positioned the state in opposition to conservative policies proposed by the Republican-dominated US Congress and President Donald Trump on immigration, the environment and other issues. “It’s a purposeful positioning,” said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California. “We have a different political path and a different ideological path than