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MPs Oppose Iraqi Kurds’ Independence Referendum

MPs Oppose Iraqi Kurds’ Independence Referendum MPs Oppose Iraqi Kurds’ Independence Referendum

Lawmakers reiterated Iran's strong opposition to the division of neighboring Iraq, condemning a plan by the Arab country's ethnic Kurds to hold a referendum on independence once the Islamic State militants are ousted.

"Kurds' independence would be construed as a violation of the Iraqi territorial integrity," Masoud Goudarzi said in an interview with ICANA on Wednesday.

"Raising such an issue is considered a separatist move and the independence of Iraq's Kurdistan would contradict the principles of its territorial integrity. The Islamic Republic does not approve of Iraq's breakup. To us, Iraq's territorial integrity is important and a redline," he said.

The plan was agreed upon in a Sunday meeting between two major Kurdish parties, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and was announced in a joint statement.

According to the statement, the exact date of the referendum will be decided following consultations with other smaller Kurdish groups.

The Kurds have already secured autonomy in running their own region in northern Iraq.

They played a major role in the US-backed campaign to defeat IS, a terrorist group that overran swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria nearly three years ago.

The militants are now struggling to maintain their grip on the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul, their last bastion.

Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the idea of splitting Iraq, mooted every now and then by westerners.

Mohammad Reza Amir Hassankhani, a member of the Iranian Parliament, said harmony and integrity among different ethnic and religious groups in the neighboring country is of paramount importance to Iran.

"The Islamic Republic's comments do not amount to interference in Iraq's internal affairs and they are made out of concern for the future of the brotherly and friendly Iraqi nation," he said.

The possibility of Iraq being partitioned was first mooted by former US Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, in August 2015.

He said partition "could happen" but was for the region, politicians and diplomats to figure out.

"It might be the only solution, but I'm not ready to say that yet."

Odierno's remarks drew condemnation from the top statesmen of Iraq and its neighbors.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was quick to criticize the comments and his media office described them as irresponsible and ignorant.

Masrour Barzani, the head of the Security Council of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, said in June that Iraq should be divided into three separate entities controlled independently by Shias, Sunnis and Kurds to allegedly prevent further sectarian bloodshed.

 

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