Iraqi parliament rejects Kurdish independence vote

Cheryl Sanders
September 13, 2017

The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq was due to be held in the three governorates - Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah - that constitute the nation's Kurdish region, and in areas of disputed territory now under Kurdish military control, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

He added that the independence referendum would result in the loss of numerous and effective opportunities and potentialities of the Kurds in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday condemned a referendum vote slated for later this month that would possibly grant independence to Iraqi Kurds.

The decision prompted a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers.

Earlier the parliament in Baghdad authorized the prime minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraq's unity.

The council also called for immediate return of displaced people to their homes at the liberated areas, except for those wanted for the judiciary, and called for the deployment of the security forces of the central government across the province, including the disputed areas claimed by both the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad, Daiyni said.

Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdish region, insisted that holding the referendum in Kirkuk is "entirely legal". Kurdish forces took control of the province and other disputed areas in the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State group swept across northern and central Iraq and the Iraqi armed forces crumbled.

Bakhtiyar said that they want to calm the situation in Baghdad as he expected a second round of talks between the Kurdish and Iraqi political parties to discuss the Kurdish independence referendum.

The US and several European countries also expressed their opposition to the referendum, raising fears that Kurdish populations in nearby countries would also demand a similar vote.

The parliamentary session Tuesday was boycotted by all Kurdish members, according to lawmaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who was present.

Turkey and Iran, concerned about separatist leanings among their own Kurdish populations, are also opposed to the referendum, and the United Nations mission to Iraq has said it will not be "engaged in any way or form" in the vote.

The Kurdish referendum is scheduled for September 25, but the central government in Baghdad is opposed to the vote.

Kurds have pushed for their own state since the conclusion of WWI, when Kurdish-populated areas were split between modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria as boundaries across the Middle East were redrawn.

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