Israel Supports an Independent State of the Kurds

16 September, 2017, 01:21 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Iraq Takes Similar Approach to Separatist Challenge as Spain

The United States and Western allies have pressed Iraqi Kurdish leaders to ditch a "very risky" independence vote, presenting an alternative plan in an attempt to avoid conflict between the oil rich region and central government in Baghdad.

Western powers are anxious that the referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, which includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, may divert attention from the war against the Islamic State. The Kurdish leadership said the autonomous region's political leaders would study the proposal, without giving details.

Iraq's parliament voted on Thursday to remove the governor of Kirkuk from office following a request from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, according to several lawmakers who attended the vote.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June strongly criticised the referendum plan, calling it "an error" and "a threat" to Iraq's territorial integrity.

McGurk affirmed the referendum was "ill-timed and ill-advised, it is not something we can support".

"The Kurdistan political leadership shall meet soon to discuss the alternative and the position of the Kurdistan Region will be declared as a result of that meeting", the statement said.

Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani defended the decision to hold the referendum in Kirkuk in a recent interview with the BBC.

In response, Barzani said that the referendum could be postponed if Iraqi Kurdistan receives an alternative proposal that would satisfy the Kurds.

Turkey, a strong opponent, warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders on Thursday that any referendum would "have a cost".

An Israeli general told in a conference in Washington last week that he personally does not consider the PKK, whose rebels have been conducting an armed rebellion against the Turkish state for more than three decades, as a terrorist group.

As Turkey ramps up its warnings against an independent Kurdistan, pro-government newspapers reported Wednesday an alleged deal to settle 200,000 Kurdish Jews in the new state, Al Monitor reported.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, during a visit to Iraq last month, encouraged the regional government and Baghdad to use dialogue to resolve their issues, and he asked all sides to "keep the focus on maintaining the momentum against [IS]".

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