The head of the Iraqi Turkmen front Ershad Salihi has said they do not accept that the upcoming referendum by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) be held in regions where Turkmens constitute the majority, according to reports on Sunday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Salihi stated that they received a visit from the KRG's referendum delegation in which the KRG told them clearly that their stance regarding the holding of a referendum in Turkmen regions, including Kirkuk, has been decided. "We told them that they need to talk with the central government of Iraq regarding the three provinces of Irbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah. The stance of the Iraqi central government on this issue is also clear – they are against it. We definitely reject any referendum in Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu and other Turkmen regions," said Salihi, adding that if Kurds and Iraqis want to live together, there should not be any majority or minority among the public. "If the Kurds are the majority, we are the other majority."
Salihi also indicated that they remain open to negotiations, adding that their main aim is to prevent bloodshed and war.
Regarding the possibility of Article 140 being brought to the agenda, in case of the postponement of the referendum date, Salihi expressed that they are the respondent to this issue and therefore Kurds should not be given any guarantees on that.
In order to determine the destiny of the conflicted zones between the KRG and Iraq's central government, Article 140 should be implemented, as it directly affects the Turkmen regions.
"We are asking Turkey and the Turkish world not to leave us alone in the region. Otherwise, we would melt down," Salihi stated, indicating that there is a sectarian war going on and they do not have any armed forces to fight it.
"We, as the Iraqi Turkmens, definitely need strong armed forces as well, in order for us to live with prosperity and security."
In June, KRG President Masoud Barzani announced that the KRG would hold a referendum regarding independence from Baghdad on Sept. 25.
The Baghdad government rejected the planned referendum, saying that it could have an adverse effect on the region's ongoing fight against Daesh. Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the planned referendum regarding the secession of northern Iraq's Kurdish region is "not among Iraq's priorities." Turkey, the U.S. and opposition parties in the region previously objected to the referendum decision, as well.
With a population of around 5 million people, Iraqi Kurdistan already enjoys a high degree of autonomy. It has its own parliament and armed forces but has clashed with the central administration in Baghdad over the distribution of oil revenues and control of some areas under the central Iraqi administration.