Iraq: Force possible if Kurdish voting turns violent
BAGHDAD — Iraq is prepared to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region’s planned independence referendum results in violence, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saind in an interview Saturday.
If the Iraqi population is “threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily,” he said.
Iraq’s Kurdish region plans to hold the referendum on support for independence from Iraq on Sept. 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region, and in disputed areas controlled by Kurdish forces but which are claimed by Baghdad.
“If you challenge the constitution and if you challenge the borders of Iraq and the borders of the region, this is a public invitation to the countries in the region to violate Iraqi borders as well, which is a very dangerous escalation,” al-Abadi said.
The leaders of Iraq’s Kurdish region have said they hope the referendum will push Baghdad to the negotiating table and create a path for independence. Al-Abadi, however, said such negotiations would be complicated by the referendum.
“It will make it harder and more difficult,” he said, but added, “I will never close the door to negotiations. Negotiations are always possible.”
Iraq’s Kurds have come under increasing pressure to call off the vote from regional powers and the United States, a key ally.
In a statement released late Friday night the White House called for the Kurdish region to abandon the referendum “and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad.”