Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Kurdistan Kurdistan to hold independence referendum on Sep. 25

Masoud Barzani announced the vote on Twitter on Wednesday Masoud Barzani announced the vote on Twitter on Wednesday
Kenny Thornton | 08 June, 2017, 20:17

"I am pleased to announce that the date for the independence referendum has been set for Monday, Sept. 25, 2017", Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani wrote on Twitter.

Comments by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel marked the first worldwide response to Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's announced plans for a referendum to take place on September 25.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said holding an independence referendum now would be neither in the Kurdistan Region's interest nor Iraq's.

Kurdish officials will visiting Baghdad and neighbouring states to discuss the referendum plan, Erbil-based TV Rudaw said, adding that elections for the Kurdish regional parliament are planned for November 6.

The Iraqi Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region in 2005, after decades of political and military efforts.

Although Ankara and Erbil have developed close economic and political ties, the emergence of a Kurdish-controlled region from Syria to Iraq is a security threat for Ankara, which has been facing a Kurdish insurgency in southeast Turkey. The dates were set during a meeting between Barzani and local political parties.

There is widespread support among Iraqi Kurds for an independent state.

The decision, announced by KRG president Mahmoud Barzani on Twitter, and picked up by local and worldwide media, is sure to spark a showdown with Baghdad, which has for years sought to keep the restive Kurds inside a barely functioning Iraqi state.

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Iran and Syria - which also have large Kurdish populations - may have similar concerns.

Given the poor state of relations between Ankara and Baghdad, Iraq is likely to oppose part of its territory being turned into a state that Turkey could easily influence.

It includes the city of Kirkuk and the towns of Makhmour, Khanaqin and Sinjar - locations where President Barzani's senior assistant Hemin Hawrami declared voting would take place in September.

The political parties will strive for reactivating the parliament and resolving political issues to create national consensus, the statement said.

Iraqi Federal Police Commander Lieutenant General Shawqi Jawdat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi forces have regained 85 percent of Al-Zanjili neighborhood, which is located on the outskirts of the old town of Mosul.

Hardline Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militias have threatened to expel the Kurds by force from this region and other disputed areas.

This is especially the case west of the city, where territory recaptured by pro-government paramilitary fighters abuts areas held by Kurdish forces, with whom they have clashed elsewhere.

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