June 19, 2018

US Urges Kurds to Call Off Independence Vote

17 September 2017, 01:01 | Kristopher Drake

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Iraqi Kurds celebrate while urging people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq

The United States and Western allies pressed Kurdish leaders yesterday during a meeting in Duhok, northern Iraq, to postpone the referendum on the independence of Iraq's Kurdistan region saying it was "fraught with grave dangers".

The region's vice-president Jaafar Aimenky, who chaired the session, announced the poll would go ahead after 65 out of 68 lawmakers present voted in favour.

"The United States does not support the Kudistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement.

An overwhelming majority of Kurdish MPs raised their hands to approve the plan, during the first session held by the parliament since it was suspended two years ago.

Mr Barzani was adamant that the vote would not be delayed.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas that the vote is planned to take in.

A "yes" vote in the independence referendum would not spell immediate independence for the Kurdish region, since the referendum does not have legal force.

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"The leaders of the US, Britain and the United Nations would have had to commit to the date by which Kurdistan and Iraq would have negotiated Kurdish sovereignty - or commit to supporting a Kurdish unilateral declaration of independence". On Thursday, Iraq's parliament voted to remove Karim from his post, a decision he summarily dismissed.

Sixty-five members of parliament voted in favour of holding the referendum for the Kurdistan region.

Ankara, which has warned the referendum would come at a "cost", has close economic and political relations with the KRG and Barzani.

It was a dispute between Gorran and the KDP that caused the assembly to suspend its sessions in 2015.

Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.

Lawmaker Omed Khoshnaw from the Kurdistan Democratic Party called the referendum a "message of peace" to Baghdad and neighbours. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.

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