Lawmaker Calls for Resolving KRG Dispute Diplomatically

Lawmaker Calls for Resolving KRG Dispute DiplomaticallyLawmaker Calls for Resolving KRG Dispute Diplomatically

A legislator believes the Iranian government would do well not to rush toward confrontation over Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government's push for secession, saying that Tehran should instead pursue a diplomatic resolution to the dispute over the KRG-organized independence poll. The semi-autonomous administration held a vote on separation from Iraq late last month, despite opposition from some Kurdish political parties, including Gorran Movement and Kurdistan Islamic Group.

The KRG has claimed the poll saw a 72% turnout in the region that hosts roughly three million Kurds and that over 92% of votes were in favor of a separate state.

The referendum has dominated the political landscape of West Asia in recent weeks, drawing strong criticism from Iraq's federal government and its neighbors, as well as opposition from the international community. Speaking in a recent interview with ISNA, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said Tehran should be vigilant not to "burn bridges" with Iraqi Kurds and lessen the chances of achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

The lawmaker said Tehran ought to be in unison with Iraq and Turkey regarding KRG to achieve the prime goal of preventing the breakup of the Arab country, but it should act in a "tactful" manner to avoid losing the longstanding trust of Iraqi Kurds in Tehran.

  Iran Sanctuary for Kurds

Falahatpisheh, himself an Iranian Kurd, said Iran has been a "sanctuary" for Kurds who have suffered decades of oppression in the region, mostly at the hands of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I believe in diplomacy [even] after the referendum. And I think if this diplomacy is going to take shape, Kurds and dignitaries such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani would trust Iran," he said.

Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's top Shia cleric who wields great influence in Iraqi politics, has urged KRG "to return to the constitutional path" in solving disputes with the central government and called on the two to appeal to Iraq's High Federal Court.

The Kurdish authority has announced it welcomes the call by Ayatollah Sistani for dialogue.

KRG has said the referendum was held to give it a mandate to negotiate a peaceful secession of their region with Baghdad.

The Iraqi government has rejected any talks and demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum to avoid sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention. In over two weeks since the referendum, Baghdad has taken several retaliatory steps against KRG, including a ban on all international flights into the Kurdish region and the closure of foreign diplomatic missions based there.

Iran and Turkey have also employed a series of measures in response to the poll, including holding joint drills with the Iraqi Army.

  Outsiders Pushing for Ethnic Sedition

Asked about the origin of Kurdish dispute, Falahatpisheh said he believes some trans-regional powers are plotting to exploit a feeling of dissatisfaction among Kurds over painful memories of years of oppression to deepen ethnic fault lines and foment "an ethnic sedition" in the region.

"As long as large countries such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia exist in the region, the West and Israeli regime cannot pull strings here smoothly," he said.

"Some in the US and the UK, as well as most Israeli politicians, maintain that the Middle East should be turned into a mosaic and its states should be small in order to manage the region more easily," he said, adding that KRG President Massoud Barzani is playing into their hands.

The Israeli regime is the only backer of the KRG-organized poll. In mid-September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leading a regime that has turned life into nightmare for generations after generations of Palestinian people, announced Israel backs the "legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own."

A senior Iraqi politician told Arabic-language newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed last Sunday that the controversial Kurdish vote would be discussed at a high-level meeting between Iraq, Iran and Turkey in the coming days. "The meeting is to bring together Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi," the leader of Iraq's ruling National Alliance movement, Jasim Mohammad Jaafar, said.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday new sanctions might be introduced by Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran against KRG, if Erbil held its ground.


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