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Iraq's Kurdish parliament backs September 25 independence referendum

17 September 2017

Yıldırım also called on KRG leader Barzani to turn back from the decision to hold the vote, calling it "a grave mistake".

The White House urged the KRG to "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad", over the issue. "Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing".

The Gorran (Change) party and the Islamic Group, which have called for postponing the referendum to an unspecified date, boycotted the session, the parliament's first since October 2015.

Western officials have once again pressed on Kurdish leaders to cancel the 25 September independence referendum by threatening not to grant global legitimacy to the elections.

The regional parliament's decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the USA, which has provided critical military aid to the KRG's fight against Daesh, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum.

Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.

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Turkey and Iran are against the referendum over concerns it could have a knock-on effect on their Kurdish minorities.

Iraqi parliamentarians have rejected the legitimacy of the vote and the central government in Baghdad, which is strongly opposed to the move, has said it will do everything possible to keep the unity of the country intact.

In recent years, there have been tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan over power-sharing, oil revenues and territorial disputes.

There is widespread support among Iraqi Kurds for an independent state.

Turkey is furious about the referendum, with loyalists to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even whipping up anti-Semitic fake news stories claiming that the Kurds have a deal with Israel to flood Kurdistan with Jews.

The Iraqi Kurds fought an on-and-off insurgency for decades against the central government until the USA invasion of Iraq in 2003 enshrined Kurdish autonomy in the Iraqi constitution.

Iraq's Kurdish parliament backs September 25 independence referendum