Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Baghdad rejects Kurds' move to press for independence unilaterally

Baghdad rejects Kurds' move to press for independence unilaterally

Turkey is criticizing Iraqi Kurdish officials' decision to hold a referendum in Iraq's autonomous northern region, calling it "a grave mistake". "Protection of the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq is one of the basic principles of Turkey's Iraq policy".

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said such a controversial move could further inflame tensions in the region.

Earlier this week, Iraqi Kurds announced they will hold a referendum on September 25 to decide whether to split with the rest of Iraq and form an independent region.

The solidarity shown in the fight against IS "should be pursued in the post-Daesh period and the issues that concern the future of the country should be tackled with global and constitutional legitimacy", the foreign ministry said, using an alternative Arabic name for Islamic State.

The Kurdish move is a "clear violation of the Iraqi constitution which emphasizes the unity of Iraq", the ITF said in a statement.

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

The announcement triggered mass exclamations of support from Kurds on social media, according to Kurdistan24, which notes that "Kurds are believed to be the largest stateless nation in the world, estimated to be over 40 million".

Hemin Hawrami, the senior assistant to President Masoud Barzani, said that the referendum will include the so-called disputed territories that have been mostly controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces since June 2014, after the Iraqi army fled ISIS offensives in Mosul, despite setbacks in August 2014, when ISIS attacked and took Sinjar and other areas, which have nearly all been taken back since past year, apart from south Sinjar.

"We can only warn against one-sided steps on this issue".

The Kurds have played a major role in the eight-month-old USA -backed campaign to defeat the hardline Sunni insurgents in the Nineveh province around their de-facto capital Mosul.

Peshmerga soldiers participate in a break from contact drill under the supervision of Italian trainers near Erbil, Iraq, Jan. 6, 2016.

"Erbil, we understand all this", he said. The U.S. State Department issued its remarks on the matter on Thursday, warning against the referendum taking place before the ultimate defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq.

A senior Kurdish official, Hoshiyar Zebari, had said in April the expected "yes" vote would strengthen the Kurds' hand in talks on self-determination with Baghdad and would not mean automatically declaring independence.

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