Saturday, 18 November, 2017

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Voting on Independence and Bracing for Violence

A memorial to killed Peshmerga in Nineveh province A memorial to killed Peshmerga in Nineveh province
Christy Curtis | 24 September, 2017, 01:44

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the referendum was a matter of national security for the country and Ankara would never accept a change of status in Iraq or Syria.

An independent Kurdistan would be a blow to Iraq's central government and is opposed by neighboring states with Kurdish populations who are anxious their own populations could be emboldened to hold similar referenda.

"The decision to hold the referendum is not that of one or two parties, it is the decision of the Kurdish parliament and the people of Kurdistan", Mr Barzani told Francois Bartley.

When asked if a cross-border operation was among the steps, he said that possible responses to the referendum include security, economic, and political options, saying it was "a question of timing". "Developing conditions will determine that". Add to that the Kurd population in Turkey and Armenia- the other countries with substantial Kurd population - and the number becomes significant. It has said that any break-up of neighbouring Iraq or Syria could lead to a global conflict. Opposing the upcoming referendum, the ministers noted that it violates the Iraqi constitution and expressed concern over the referendum creating further instability in the region. The most hotly contested area is Kirkuk, where Baghdad lays claim to the oil-rich province.

It is dominated by Kurds but is also home to Arabs, Assyrian Christians and Turkmen - of whom Turkey has long seen itself as the protector. The regional press considers that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is ready for a military intervention.

"We conveyed our opinions [on referendum] clearly and without hesitation to our friends in the coalition. Arbil should immediately correct this grave mistake that will trigger new crises in the region", Kalın tweeted.

"There really is no possibility of calling it off", said Peter Galbraith, who took a special interest in the Kurdish situation in the late 1980s and early '90s and helped uncover former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against the minority group.

The PKK launched its separatist insurgency in 1984. If it were, the referendum would not be followed by a declaration of independence.

Turkey's official news agency says Istanbul police have detained 36 people as alleged members of the Islamic State group.

Turkey's parliament on Saturday ratified a motion to extend for another year approval for the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and Iraqi Army Chief of Staff Gen.

Akar and al-Ghanimi emphasized the importance of cooperation in the fight against PKK and Daesh, the statement said.

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