Iraqi Kurdish referendum to trigger new crises, says Turkish official

Lucy Bush
September 24, 2017

In Ankara, Turkey's National Security Council, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slammed the planned referendum as "illegitimate", indicating that Ankara was prepared to retaliate if it went ahead.

Any postponement of next Monday's controversial referendum on Kurdish regional independence is out of question, Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani said on Saturday, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

Jwan Mohammed, a Kurdish politician in the northern city of Qamishli, said the vote is taking place amid very tight security for fear of attacks by the Islamic State.

In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries. In meetings with USA defense officials last month, Barzani said the referendum wouldn't interfere with ongoing operations against the Islamic state.

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"Baghdad has stated very clearly and publicly ... that they will only accept a solution within the Iraqi constitution, a constitution that they themselves have not honored", Galbraith said.

This week, the military launched previously unannounced military exercises near the border with Iraq in an apparent warning to Iraq's Kurds.

Turkey's government spokesman said Bekir Bozdag said the planned independence referendum represents a direct threat to Turkey's security, and Ankara hopes it will be canceled so it can avoid implementing sanctions.

The Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum is scheduled for September 25.

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The most hotly contested area is Kirkuk, where Baghdad lays claim to the oil-rich province.

The vote follows several decades of acrimony between Kurdish administrators and the federal government in Baghdad, acrimony that predates the USA -led invasion in 2003.

Despite tensions over the referendum, Iraqi forces on Friday recaptured IS-held Sharqat on their drive to retake the nearby northern town of Hawija back from the jihadists. The United States and Iran and have also voiced opposition to the referendum saying it could destabilise the region and harm the fight against IS.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders are pressing ahead with the referendum, which Baghdad dismisses as illegal.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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