US urges Iraqi Kur­dish leader to call off state­hood ref­er­en­dum

Irish Independent - - WORLD NEWS - Raya Jal­abi

THE White House has said the plan for an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan re­gion later this month dis­tracts from ef­forts to de­feat Isil. It urged Kur­dish lead­ers to call off the vote.

“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,” the White House said in a state­ment.

The par­lia­ment of Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan re­gion con­vened for the first time in two years yes­ter­day to vote on a plan to hold a ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence on Septem­ber 25.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Baghdad op­poses the plan, which was an­nounced ear­lier this year by Kur­dish leader Mas­soud Barzani’s Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG).

Iraq’s neigh­bours, Iran and Turkey, have also ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion to the plan, as they fear an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state could fuel sep­a­ratism among their own Kur­dish pop­u­la­tions. The par­lia­ment met in the KRG cap­i­tal, Er­bil, in north­ern Iraq. Mr Barzani was adamant that the vote would not be de­layed. “We still haven’t heard a pro­posal that can be an al­ter­na­tive to the Kur­dis­tan ref­er­en­dum,” he said.

Gor­ran, the main op­po­si­tion move­ment to Barzani’s Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party (KDP), boy­cotted the par­lia­ment ses­sion in Er­bil.

It was a dis­pute be­tween Gor­ran and the KDP that caused the as­sem­bly to sus­pend its ses­sions in 2015.

Barzani’s de­ci­sion not to post­pone the ref­er­en­dum was “very wrong”, Turk­ish President Tayyip Er­do­gan (in­set) said yes­ter­day.

Iraqi Kur­dish president Mas­soud Barzani

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