US warns KRG referendum increase instability and hardships for Kurds

DAILY SABAH WITH AP
ISTANBUL
Published
Officials sort ballot papers after the close of the polling station during Kurds independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 25, 2017. (REUTERS Photo)
Officials sort ballot papers after the close of the polling station during Kurds independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 25, 2017. (REUTERS Photo)

The United States warned that an independence referendum Monday for the Kurdish Regional Government( KRG) to break away from Baghdad will "increase instability."

The vote heightened tensions with Iraq's national government and neighboring countries. While an overwhelming "Yes" outcome is expected, the vote is non-binding and Kurdish officials have said there are no plans for an immediate declaration of independence.

"The United States is deeply disappointed that the Kurdistan Regional Government decided to conduct today a unilateral referendum on independence, including in areas outside of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"The United States' historic relationship with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will not change in light of today's non-binding referendum, but we believe this step will increase instability and hardships for the Kurdistan region and its people."

Monday's non-binding referendum will see voters in northern Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas, including areas disputed between Irbil and Baghdad such as oil-rich Kirkuk, vote on seceding from Iraq.

Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the U.S., and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

Last week the Turkish Armed Forces began a military drill in the region around the border town of Silopi including 100 military vehicles, which continued with reinforcements this weekend. The Iraqi forces also participated in Turkish military exercises later on Monday.

The Turkish parliament on Saturday approved overwhelmingly a one-year extension of a mandate to use troops abroad in Syria and Iraq and Iraq's central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.

KRG President Massoud Barzani has said a "Yes" win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter