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THE STANS
Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds call off referendum
by Staff Writers
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 19, 2017


Iraq PM rejects any Kurdish independence referendum
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 19, 2017 - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said he rejected any type of referendum on independence for the northern autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

"The referendum is rejected, whether today or in the future, in the Kurdistan region within the 2003 borders or in the disputed areas," he told journalists.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has announced an independence referendum for September 25 in oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan, and the provincial council in the neighbouring province of Kirkuk has said it will also take part.

Beyond the three provinces that have made up Iraqi Kurdistan since the fall of Saddam Hussein after a US-led invasion, Iraq's Kurds have also claimed territory in Kirkuk, as well as the Nineveh and Diyala provinces.

Abadi also hinted at a possible military intervention in Kirkuk, which is home to diverse communities including Arabs and Turkmen who oppose the vote.

"If a Kirkuk citizen is exposed to danger, it's our legitimate duty to impose security," he said.

On Monday, Iraq's supreme court ordered the suspension of the referendum to examine claims it was unconstitutional.

Abadi's office said it had filed a complaint against the referendum, after parliament in Baghdad voted twice against it.

Barzani has said a "yes" vote would not trigger an immediate declaration of independence, but rather kick-start "serious discussions" with Baghdad.

Analysts say Barzani is using the referendum as leverage in his Kurdish Regional Government's long-standing disputes with the federal authorities in Baghdad over territory and oil exports.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday demanded that Iraqi Kurds call off a referendum on independence, hinting at consequences if they go ahead.

"Steps such as demands for independence that can cause new crises and conflicts in the region must be avoided. We hereby call on the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government to abort the initiative they have launched in that direction," Erdogan said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

"Ignoring the clear and determined stance of Turkey on this matter may lead to a process that shall deprive the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government of even the opportunities it currently enjoys."

Turkey, which has already warned against the vote, has its own long-running conflict with separatists among its sizable Kurdish minority and has also vowed to quash any Kurdish state from emerging in war-torn Syria.

In a likely unstated warning, Turkey on Monday launched a military drill with 100 vehicles including tanks on the Iraqi border.

Iraqi Kurds will vote on September 25 in the non-binding referendum on whether to declare independence in a region that has already been autonomous since the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.

Virtually all countries including the United States and Iran oppose the referendum -- with the exception of Israel, which sees a possible opening in a hostile region.

Erdogan, whose relations with Europe have become increasingly tense over his human rights record, repeated his criticism that the European Union has not fulfilled its part of a migration deal.

Under the agreement last year, the European Union agreed to three billion euros ($3.6 billion) of support for refugees, mostly fleeing war-torn Syria, to stay in Turkey.

Erdogan said the EU had sent only 820 million euros of the package, which does not go directly into Turkish government coffers.

"Before the whole world, I hereby call on the countries and the international 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.

THE STANS
Yes or no? Independence referendum splits Iraqi Kurds
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Sept 19, 2017
Iraqi Kurds may have long dreamed of founding their own state, but the independence referendum set for September 25 has also exposed divisions between their autonomous region's main cities. In Arbil, capital of the Kurdish Regional Government, the streets are currently teeming with red, white and green Kurdish flags. Some people have even resprayed their cars with the same colours and al ... read more

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