Turkey: Iraq's Kurds will pay 'price' for independence vote
Sep 16 2017
Slated for September 25, the non-binding referendum will see residents of northern Iraq's Kurdish region vote on whether or not to declare formal independence from Baghdad.
Parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi said he had received a letter from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office calling for MPs to vote on the dismissal of the governor, Najm Eddine Karim.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Friday that the United Nations might get involved in the controversy over the KRG's independence referendum plans in the upcoming days.Speaking to reporters in Ankara following Friday prayers, Yıldırım called on KRG leader Masoud Barzani to turn back from the decision to hold the vote, calling it "a grave mistake".
Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population and is battling Kurdish insurgents, has forged close ties to Iraq's autonomous region but opposes an independent Kurdish state.
United States officials, however, remain insistent: "There is no chance that this referendum, which will be held on September 25, will be given global legitimacy ... The prime minister does not have the power to ask parliament to remove me".
Barzani's words came after U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition Against Daesh Brett McGurk urged the KRG leadership on Thursday to postpone the referendum amid a lack of worldwide support at a news conference in Irbil.
The U.S. does not support the referendum, arguing it will destabilize Iraq and harm the ongoing fight against IS.
Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia paramilitary groups have threatened to dislodge the Kurdish forces from the oil-rich Kirkuk region, which is due to take part in the referendum.
The referendum is scheduled for September 25, when more than 5 million Kurds in northern Iraq will determine if they want to secede from Iraq.
Barzani also criticized the Iraqi parliament's voting to reject the referendum and the sacking of the governor of Kirkuk.
Kurds have long claimed Kirkuk and its huge oil reserves. Last spring, Kirkuk's governorate voted to raise the Kurdish flag over state buildings, despite Baghdad's insistence that only Iraq's national flag should fly in the multiethnic city. "If our will is strong, we will achieve victory", Barzani said.