US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS
16 September, 2017, 01:01
The Iraqi parliament earlier this week voted against plans by leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq to hold the non-binding September 25 referendum.
Jaafar Aimenky, the region's vice president who chaired the September 15 session, announced that the nonbinding referendum would go forward after an overwhelming number of regional lawmakers voted in favor.
"To this date, we have not received an alternative that can take the place of the referendum", Barzani told a pro-referendum rally in Amedi on Friday, Rudawreported.
McGurk said at a news conference in Irbil that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's decision not to postpone an independence referendum later this month is "very wrong", Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Speaking to Panorama.am, political scientist Alexander Markarov said Iraqi Kurdistan's leader strongly supports the independence vote when, according to world powers, it can pose serious threat to the regional security and the issue of self-determination in a number of regions.
It is also clear that the Kurdish region will not become independent on the day following the referendum.
Barzani's statements came after the U.S. Special Envoy for the Coalition against Daesh Brett McGurk urged northern Iraq's KRG to halt its upcoming independence referendum, suggesting that there is an alternative. "If our will is strong, we will achieve victory", Barzani said.
The neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries. It has its own parliament and armed forces, flies its own flag, and has been a close USA ally against IS and other militant groups.
The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, are considered one of the most consistent and capable allies of the West in the fight against IS. They say a Kurdish bid for independence will disrupt that cooperation and may result in a war between the region and the central government, particularly on the fate of disputed territories.
US officials say peshmerga's cooperation with the Iraqi army played a critical role in removing IS from Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.
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