Kurdistan to Hold Independence Vote Despite Regional, Int'l Pressure

by Antonio Miles September 22, 2017, 0:25
Kurdistan to Hold Independence Vote Despite Regional, Int'l Pressure

In early June, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the region from Iraq on September 25.

The mixed province of Kirkuk has been under the administration of the KRG since 2014 after Iraqi forces failed to protect the area from the Islamic State (IS) and were pushed out.

Ankara fears independence by Iraqi Kurds could fuel similar secessionist demands from its restive Kurdish minority.

Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'a militias have threatened to dislodge the Peshmerga from Kirkuk should the Kurds proceed with the vote.

"If (Iraq's Kurds) want to go along that road, they should work toward amending the constitution", al-Abadi said.

The Turkish military exercise began in the Silopi-Habur region in the country's south, close to northern Iraq, the armed forces said.

Police deployed overnight Monday in the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk to prevent a deadly dispute from developing into ethnic clashes ahead of a referendum on Kurdish independence, local residents said.

Tanks and troops have amassed on the frontier, training rocket launchers towards Iraqi Kurdistan.

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The statement said the proposed referendum "puts Iraq's hard-earned gains against ISIL under great risk... and runs the risk of provoking new conflicts in the region, that will prove hard to contain".

A Reuters reporter saw armored vehicles carrying heavy weaponry and soldiers taking positions in specially dug areas, their weapons directed across the border.

The outlawed PKK has been waging an insurgency in Turkey's southeast, bordering Iraq and Syria, for more than 30 years.

"Before the whole world, I hereby call on the countries and the global organizations, which have put all the burden of the 3.2 million people on Turkey's shoulders, to fulfill the promises they have made", Erdogan said.

Cross-border trade, however, appeared to continue. However, those in favour of creating an Independent Kurdish state count on U.S. support via Israel, the only regional country that has supported the creation of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. They will "put forward their own stance on what kind of sanctions we can impose, or if we will", he told reporters in NY, according to Anadolu news agency.

Russian oil major Rosneft will also invest in pipelines to export gas to Turkey and Europe.

Concerned about Tehran's attempts to gain influence over Baghdad, Washington would also prefer that Iraqi leaders have the ability to prepare for the country's 2018 elections without having to address the problem of a Kurdish referendum.

Paul Manafort is working with associates of Iraqi Kurdish leaders to boost a referendum effort there, The New York Times reported on Wednesday night.

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