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Iraqi premier says Kurdish referendum on independence ‘unconstitutional’

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the planned Kurdish referendum on independence from the Arab country is “unconstitutional,” warning that the Kurds are "illegally" exporting Iraq's oil.

“I call upon the Kurdish leadership to come to Baghdad and conclude a dialogue,” Abadi said in a press conference in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Tuesday, a few hours after the country’s parliament overwhelmingly voted against the plebiscite, which has been planned by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri said the vote made it incumbent on the government to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialog” with Kurdish officials. The vote prompted Kurdish lawmakers to quit the parliament floor.

Abadi also stated that Kurdish authorities were illegally extracting crude oil from the oil-rich territories in the northern province of Kirkuk and continued exporting the invaluable national resource. He did not give further details.

The Kurdish referendum is scheduled for September 25, but the central government in Baghdad is strongly opposed to the vote. Iran, Turkey and Syria also oppose the idea of an independent Kurdistan. In June, Tehran expressed opposition to the “unilateral” scheme for independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region was part of the majority Arab country.

Turkey has also censured efforts to establish an independent Kurdistan as "a grave mistake." Ankara says potential creation of an independent Kurdish state in its backyard would further embolden Turkey’s homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants toward an even stiffer confrontation with the government.

Several other countries in the region are concerned that such a referendum could ignite a fresh conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighboring countries, diverting attention from the ongoing war against Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria.