Barzani Urged to Heed Friendly Warnings on Referendum

Barzani Urged to Heed Friendly Warnings on ReferendumBarzani Urged to Heed Friendly Warnings on Referendum

Iraqi Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani would do well to pay attention to warnings against his secession push from the friends of Kurdish people, particularly Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a parliamentarian said.

Akbar Ranjbarzadeh also argued that the "unconsidered" move could spell big troubles for the region and hurt Kurdistan's prospects of progress, ICANA reported.

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government held a secession referendum on Sept. 25, despite opposition from some Kurdish political parties, including Gorran Movement and Kurdistan Islamic Group.

The KRG said on Wednesday the vote had seen a 72% turnout and over 92% of voters from among 3.4 million people in the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq had voted in favor of a separate state.

Kurdish leaders have said the referendum was held to give them a mandate to negotiate with Baghdad the peaceful secession of their region.

The poll drew strong criticism from Iraq's federal government as well as many Iraqi dignitaries.

Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's top Shia cleric, stressed his opposition to the KRG-organized poll on Friday, cautioning about the "undesired consequences" of attempts to divide Iraq, which will adversely affect the nation and "dear Kurdish citizens".

In a sermon to Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala, his representative Ahmed al-Safi on his behalf urged KRG "to return to the constitutional path" in solving disputes with the central government and said the two should appeal to Iraq's High Federal Court.

The Iranian lawmaker said Ayatollah Sistani's warning was issued out of grave concern over the possibility of future conflicts threatening the whole Iraqi nation.

"Ayatollah Sistani voiced his opposition to Kurdish secession [attempt] in a timely manner to maintain the unity of the nation," he said.

  In No One's Interest

Ranjbarzadeh said Kurdish leaders should address the demands of their people through legal channels and abandon "illegitimate" polls that have no legal basis and are against their interests.

The lawmaker said Barzani's secession push would do no good to any Iraqi ethnic or religious group, particularly Kurds, whose landlocked region is encircled by countries unanimous about the need to protect Iraq's territorial integrity.

"By holding the referendum, Kurdish leaders are ruining their people's chances of economic development and heightening the risk of being involved in a military conflict," he said.

The Iraqi government has rejected any talks with KRG and demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result to avoid sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Many countries, particularly those neighboring Iraq's Kurdistan, namely Iran, Turkey and Syria, have decried the Kurdish authorities for holding the poll.

Iran and Turkey have employed a series of measures in response to the poll, including suspension of flights to the region.

Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region on Friday. It has announced plans to take control of the borders of the region in coordination with Iran and Turkey.

Lieutenant General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chairman of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, announced on Saturday a plan to hold a joint military drill with the Iraqi Army in the coming days near the Iraqi Kurdistan territory.

Ranjbarzadeh said the only beneficiaries of Barzani's push are the Israeli regime and the US, two enemies of the region who seek to escalate tensions in the Middle East.

"They are heartening Barzani, with the aim of diverting the focus of regional countries from Israel," he said.

The Israeli regime is the only backer of the Kurdish independence, a fact that has further fueled criticism of the poll.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency played a role in Iraqi Kurdistan's independence vote, as evidenced by Israeli flags raised during celebrations of the vote in Kurdistan region.

During a televised speech, Erdogan vowed that Iraqi Kurdistan "will pay a price" for the "unacceptable" independence referendum.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints