Turkey: Iraqi Kurdish referendum illegitimate, unacceptable

Sep 24, 2017, 00:30
Turkey: Iraqi Kurdish referendum illegitimate, unacceptable

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.

Ahmed, co-president of the political wing of a US -backed Syrian Kurdish force battling the Islamic State militant group, said that unlike the Iraqi Kurdish referendum that's largely been rejected internationally, local Kurdish elections have faced no objections.

"For independence we must pay any price needed because we prefer freedom over subordination or oppression", Barzani told a rally on Friday in Erbil, adding that Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had earned the right to self-determination by battling 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.

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"We have tried a lot with all parties to reach a solution to the problems and abide by the constitution, but they did not accept the partnership", he said. The Turkish military held drills near the Iraqi border and said that such drills would continue to take place.

The referendum was unconstitutional, the ministers added, and will cause conflicts in the region that are hard to contain.

A statement issued after the meeting said Turkey reserved its rights originating from global conventions.

Turkey and Iran have joined the Iraqi government in warning of "counter-measures" if the referendum which they label as "unconstitutional" goes ahead as planned on 25 September.

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Iraqi Kurdistan has since 2003 been made up of the three provinces of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniyah, but its leaders have laid claim to other areas that are constitutionally under Baghdad's authority, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

In reaction to the Kurdish military assertiveness, Turkey sent its troops past year into northern Syria, undermining a contiguous Kurdish-held east-to-west territory.

"We are being pressured day and night to postpone the poll, but we won't repeat the mistakes of the past", Barzani said.

Saying that the referendum lacks worldwide legitimacy, Yilmaz called on KRG President Masoud Barzani to cancel it.

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The UN Security Council warned Thursday the referendum might destabilize the region still threatened by radical Islamic militancy.