Iraqi Kurds Pursue Referendum despite U.S. Objection

Iraqi Kurdistan Region Photo: Google Earth
Iraqi Kurdistan Region Photo: Google Earth

Iraqi Kurds are determined for the referendum announced to be held on 25 September 2017 despite the U.S. objection.

The KRG President Massoud Barzani’s close adviser, Hoshyar Zebari told Reuters “The date is standing, Sept 25, no change.”

In a telephone conversation with the Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Barzani, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged him to postpone the referendum.

The U.S. fears that the referendum might distract the fight against the ISIS in Iraq where the Kurdish forces are at the frontiers.

The U.S. believes that there are more urgent issues to deal with other than the referendum. The U.S., however, recognizes the ‘legitimate aspirations’ of the Kurdish people, but the U.S. Secretary pressed for a “unified, federal, stable and democratic Iraq.”

Kurdish presidency issued a resolute statement after the phone conversation between the U.S.  Secretary of State Tillerson and KRG President Barzani. “On the issue of the postponement of the referendum, the President [Barzani] stated that the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future.”

An independent Kurdish state is unanimously opposed by Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria where the majority of the Kurds live. PKK in Turkey has been fighting against the Turkish government and eventually got enlisted as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Turkey.

Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shia cleric of Iraq told that “Kurds are part of Iraq, and we want them to stay that way, but some issues accumulated from Iraqi governments have led them to depart and reach a level to secede.”

President Barzani’s son Masrour Barzani spoke out against the international demand to postpone the announced date of the referendum. Mr. Masrour Barzani said, “Those opponents who say this is not the right time, my question to them is when is the right time? … When [IS] invaded parts of Iraq and attacked Kurdistan, once again we were told it’s [a] time of war so it’s not the right time. Now that [IS] is on the verge of collapse we are again being told it is not the right time.”

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