Iraqi Kurdish referendum 'historic mistake': Turkey

Thu 14 Sep 2017 at 12:47 Regional
NNA - Turkey on Thursday welcomed an Iraqi parliament move to reject a referendum on Kurdish independence.


The parliament in Baghdad authorized the prime minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraqs unity in response to the move to hold an independence referendum in Iraqs semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Sept. 25.


Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani vowed to press ahead with the vote, calling it "a natural right."


"Barzanis referendum decision is a historic mistake. Turkey will follow policies that take Iraqs territorial integrity as a basis," Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.


"The northern Iraq referendum must be canceled, if not it will have a cost and retribution," he said, adding the move would erode the regions peace and bring security risks.


Turkey has the regions largest Kurdish population and fears a Yes vote could fuel separatism in its southeast where Kurdish militants have waged an insurgency for three decades in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.


Ankara has built solid ties with Barzanis administration, founded on strong economic and energy links as well as Ankara and Erbils shared suspicions of other Kurdish groups and Iraqs central government.


Iran and Syria also oppose the vote, fearing it could fan separatism among their own Kurdish populations.


Western powers worry the plebiscite - which would include the oil-producing city of Kirkuk - could ignite conflict with the central government in Baghdad and divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants.


Turkeys Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Thursday, said: "We find the (Iraqi Kurdish) leaderships insistent stance regarding the referendum and its increasingly emotional statements worrying."


"It should be noted that this insistence will definitely have a cost," it added. "We call on them to act with good sense and abandon this erroneous approach immediately." ---Reuters


============R.A.H.


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