Kurds will hold ref­er­en­dum, the West ob­jects

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

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

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