Arabic | Kurdish

US says northern Iraq referendum will increase instability in region

2017/09/26 | 11:53

(Iraq Now News)- The United States said it was "deeply disappointed" that the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq held a referendum on support for independence on Monday, calling the vote "unilateral."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the move would "increase instability and hardships" for northern Iraq and complicate the ability of the semi-autonomous KRG to work with Iraq‘s central government and neighbouring countries.

Nauert also said the US opposes moves by any parties to change boundaries in Iraq, adding that Daesh and other extremists were hoping to "exploit instability and discord" in the country.

The vote is non-binding and not expected to result in immediate independence, but KRG leaders say it will open the door to negotiations with Baghdad for greater autonomy.

The United Nations also responded to the vote with regret and said it was "unilaterally declared, included disputed areas."

Iraq rejects talks with KRG

After the vote, the Iraqi government said it refuses to engage  with the KRG about the results of the "unconstitutional" referendum on independence.

"We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said in a speech broadcast on state TV on Monday night.

Along with Baghdad, the US and UN, the move has also been criticised by neighbouring Turkey and Iran, who say a new separate region carved out of Iraq will give space to terror groups such as the PKK. 

The two countries have a substantial Kurdish population which will be affected by the developments in northern Iraq, top officials say.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Monday insisted the “legitimate authority” for Turkey in Iraq was the central government in Baghdad.

Speaking during a live TV interview, Yildirim said the KRG vote was illegitimate and its results would be null and void.

"From now on, we will directly speak to Iraq‘s central government and decide accordingly," the Turkish premier added.

"[The vote] will not contribute to regional peace and stability, but it will increase existing tension and problems," he said.

Yildirim said the "insistence” on the vote had, in a sense, created an “environment for conflict."

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