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UAE Consul in Kurdistan visits referendum polling station

Peshmerga forces cast their ballots in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)'s non binding independence referendum on 25 September 2017. [Yunus Keleş /Anadolu Agency]
Peshmerga forces cast their ballots in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)'s non binding independence referendum on 25 September 2017 [Yunus Keleş /Anadolu Agency]

The UAE Consul in Kurdistan, Rashid Al-Mansouri, visited a polling station in Erbil yesterday where Kurds voted in a referendum to separate the northern Kurdistan region from Iraq, Al-Araby Al- Jadeed newspaper quoted an Iraqi official in Baghdad as saying.

According to the unnamed source, Al-Mansouri and other diplomats visited the polling station in the Ain Kao district and met with the station director and took pictures with the citizens who were voting.

“The consul’s visit is very strange and we do not know whether it is personal or official, but in any case it is considered a violation and a confirmation of the UAE’s [intention] to divide Iraq,” the source said, pointing out that the Iraqi Foreign Ministry will ask for clarification from Abu Dhabi about the visit.

A number of UAE officials have openly expressed their support for Kurdish separation from Iraq, including Chairperson of Emirates Policy Centre (EPC), Ibtisam Al-Ketbi, who signed a memorandum of understanding with the region earlier this year to help organise the referendum process.

Read more: Turkey threatens to close Kurdish oil pipeline in response to referendum

Al-Ketbi has said in the past that Abu Dhabi will recognise Kurdish independence if it is voted by the people.

Several Iraqi politicians have criticised Abu Dhabi over its stance, including the leader of the ruling National Alliance, MP Jassim Mohammed Jaafar, who slammed Abu Dhabi and accused it of conspiring against Iraq.

Only two countries have supported the Kurdish referendum – Israel openly and the UAE unofficially.

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