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Iran: Kirkuk’s participation in Kurdistan secession referendum ‘exasperating’

A bonfire takes place during the Newroz celebrations in Kirkuk, Iraq on 20 March 2017 [Ali Mukarrem Garip/Anadolu Agency]

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has criticised the Kurdish government for its recent decision to hold a referendum on secession from Iraq. A ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasimi, described the decision by the Kirkuk provincial council as “a provocative, unwelcomed and wrong decision”.

“The insistence on holding the referendum, despite the rejection of the Iraqi government, the United Nations and many regional and non-regional countries, does not support dialogue with Baghdad to settle the outstanding issues. It also affects the process of supporting Iraq’s victories in fighting Terrorism,” Qasimi said, according to the IRNA, a news agency.

Qasimi stressed that the Islamic Republic “warns of the repercussions of this wrong decision, which is a flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and reaffirms the need for adherence of all parties to the constitution”.

Read More: Tension over impending Kurdish referendum

He stressed that “the settlement of conflicts through dialogue and legal mechanisms is the best option for the Iraqi people”. Qasimi insisted on the rejecting any procedure that leads to the escalation of new crises in the region and the borders of Iraq neighbouring countries.

Iran and Turkey both oppose the secession of the Kurdistan region because they fear that the separatist movement will spill over into their own Kurdish populations.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned on Tuesday that the decision of the Kirkuk Provincial government to hold a referendum on secession from Iraq is “a serious violation of the constitution of the country.”

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry described the step as “a new episode in the series of mistakes”..

The Iraqi Kirkuk Provincial Government voted earlier yesterday to include the province in the referendum on secession though this was boycotted by Turkmen and Arab representatives.

The planned referendum is non-binding, in the sense that it involves a survey of the residents of the three provinces in the Kurdish region: Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, as well as other disputed areas, asking whether they wish to secede from Iraq.

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