Al-Abadi in­vites Kur­dish lead­ers to dis­cuss ref­er­en­dum

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

IRAQI PRIME Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi called upon the Kur­dish lead­er­ship yes­ter­day to come to Bagh­dad for a di­a­logue over the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment’s (KRG) in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, af­ter Iraq’s par­lia­ment voted to re­ject it.

IRAQI Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi said the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment’s (KRG) planned ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence was “un­con­sti­tu­tional” on Tues­day, hours af­ter par­lia­ment voted against the re­gional plebiscite.

“I call upon the Kur­dish lead­er­ship to come to Bagh­dad and con­clude the di­a­logue,” Abadi said in a press con­fer­ence.

Abadi’s re­marks came af­ter the Iraqi Par­lia­ment vote to re­ject the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum planned for Sept. 25, au­tho­riz­ing the prime min­is­ter to take all mea­sures to pre­serve Iraq's unity.

The Iraqi prime min­is­ter added that if the KRG in­sists on hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum, the Kur­dis­tan re­gion will “lose” all it has achieved since the U.S.-led in­va­sion of Iraq in 2003.

North­ern Iraq-based news out­let Ru­daw re­ported that Abadi said, “The Kur­dish cit­i­zens in Iraq made achieve­ments dur­ing the pe­riod of co­ex­is­tence af­ter 2003 that they could not achieve in past cen­turies. And this is their right, be­cause they are first-class cit­i­zens like all other Iraqis.”

He was mak­ing ref­er­ence to the Iraqi Con­sti­tu­tion that came in ef­fect in 2005, which rec­og­nized the Kur­dis­tan re­gion es­tab­lished in 1992 with its own par­lia­ment, armed forces and gov­ern­ment.

On Tues­day, KRG leader Mas­soud Barzani said he would press ahead with the Sept. 25 ref­er­en­dum de­spite a vote by Iraq's par- lia­ment re­ject­ing it.

Since the KRG an­nounced its plan to hold the ref­er­en­dum, it has gained lit­tle sup­port from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and in­stead has faced some harsh crit­i­cism.

The non-bind­ing ref­er­en­dum has faced strong op­po­si­tion from neigh­bor­ing Iran and Turkey, as both coun­tries warned the KRG sev­eral times to with­draw its de­ci­sion to hold a ref­er­en­dum.

The EU also de­clared its sup­port for the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of Iraq while the U.S. and Kur­dish op­po­si­tion Go­ran Move­ment de­manded the post­pone­ment of the ref­er­en­dum.

Only Is­rael openly sup­ports the ref­er­en­dum and in­de­pen­dence of the KRG. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Benyamin Ne­tanyahu en­dorsed the in­de­pen­dence of the KRG yes­ter­day, say­ing, "[Is­rael] sup­ports the le­git­i­mate ef­forts of the Kur­dish peo­ple to achieve their own state."

Ne­tanyahu, in re­marks sent to for­eign cor­re­spon­dents via his of­fice, added that Is­rael does, how­ever, con­sider the PKK a ter­ror­ist group, tak­ing the same po­si­tion as Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

Ne­tanyahu’s state­ments came in re­sponse to Yair Golan, a ma­jor gen­eral and the for­mer deputy chief of the Gen­eral Staff in the Is­rael De­fense Forces (IDF), who said that he per­son­ally does not re­gard the PKK as a ter­ror­ist group, speak­ing at a con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton last week.

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