Turkey mulls response to Kurdish independence vote

Lucy Bush
September 17, 2017

A auto bomb killed one person and injured ten in Kirkuk, an Iraqi oil city where local Kurdish authorities plan to hold a referendum on independence despite opposition from the central government and the region's non-Kurdish population.

Critics of the vote, including the United States and the European Union and even some members of Iraq's 5.5 million-strong Kurdish minority, say it could distract from the fight against jihadists. It is also concerned that the scheduled referendum comprises disputed areas such has Kirkuk, which is home to Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds and Christians.

It urged the KRG to "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate".

It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad.

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Speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Friday, government deputy spokesman Georg Streiter warned that such a move might lead to new tensions in an already-volatile region.

Analysts, however, told AFP that this would not be enough at this stage to convince Barzani to hold off on an independence vote in which he has invested much of his domestic political capital.

The US officially declared its opposition to the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum on Saturday, as the Kurdistan parliament unanimously voted in favour of holding it on 25 September.

The Baghdad parliament's decision earlier this week to oppose the referendum drew condemnation from deputies in Erbil.

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The KRG has ignored increasing calls for the cancelation of the referendum, saying the vote would go ahead as planned.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

But Kurdish region President Masud Barzani has said the vote is necessary because "all other bids" to secure full Kurdish rights "have failed".

The Gorran (Change) party and the Islamic Group, which have called for postponing the referendum to an unspecified date, boycotted the session, the parliament's first since October 2015.

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Kirkuk has always been the center of dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds, raising the prospect that conflict could erupt between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds.

Other reports by Info About Network

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