Kurds to hold vote


Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD -

The par­lia­ment of Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan re­gion ap­proved a plan yes­ter­day to hold a ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence on Septem­ber 25, ig­nor­ing op­po­si­tion from Bagh­dad and the wider re­gion, as well as con­cerns that the vote could spark fresh con­flict. The White House pub­licly called for the first time on the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG), based in Er­bil in north­ern Iraq, to can­cel the vote. The US has pro­vided crit­i­cal mil­i­tary aid to the KRG’s fight against Is­lamic State, and the US and other Western pow­ers fear that in­creased ten­sions between Bagh­dad and the Kurds will dis­tract from the war on Isis mil­i­tants who still oc­cupy parts of Iraq and Syria. Iraq’s neigh­bours Iran and Turkey also op­pose the vote, fear­ing that an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state could fuel sep­a­ratism among their own Kur­dish pop­u­la­tions. Mean­while, Ira­nian-backed Iraqi Shi’ite para­mil­i­tary groups have threat­ened to dis­lodge Kur­dish forces from the Kirkuk re­gion, which is due to take part in the ref­er­en­dum.

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