KRG Secessionist Move Undermined Kurdish Interests

KRG Secessionist Move Undermined Kurdish Interests KRG Secessionist Move Undermined Kurdish Interests

Pushing ahead with an illegal secession vote by Iraq's Kurdistan Region Government was a "historic" and "strategic" mistake, a lawmaker said, adding that the move ran counter to Kurdish interests.

"[Holding the vote] was in fact an act of oppression against the Kurdish people," Akbar Ranjbarzadeh also told ICANA.

He slammed KRG President Masoud Barzani for his insistence on holding the vote based on differences in language and ethnicity, calling it an "irrational act".

"The interest of peoples in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran is in peace and maintaining the territorial integrity of these countries," he said.

Despite Baghdad's stiff opposition, KRG held a non-binding referendum on Sept. 25 on secession from Iraq. Official results showed turnout was 72%, of whom 92% backed the secession.

Kurdish leaders, who have coveted Kirkuk for long and described it as part of their territory even though roughly two-thirds of the city's population are non-Kurd, conducted the vote there as well.

Kirkuk is not one of the three provinces that have made up the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan since 2003. However, Kurdish militants used a vacuum created when government troops crumbled in the face of a lightening onslaught by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in the summer of 2014 to overtake the city.

On Monday, Iraqi government forces, acting on Baghdad's orders to counter the Sept. 25 Kurdish referendum, started an operation to recapture the Kirkuk area.

A security official said on Friday that Iraqi forces retook control of the last sector of the province of Kirkuk. There were also reports of sporadic clashes between Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

Ranjbarzadeh said the Iraqi Army could have retaken Kirkuk much earlier but refrained to do so to avoid any harm to Kurdish people.

He also urged the involved forces in Kirkuk to stay away from any move that could disrupt the relative security and peace there.

The parliamentarian warned KRG leaders against establishing any ties with extra-regional countries to strengthen their hand in their push for secession.

"There is no gain for KRG in such relations and the neighboring countries will be harmed as well," he said.

Israel has been the only player supporting Kurdish statehood, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming its intelligence forces are helping KRG leaders.

US President Donald Trump said his country is neutral in the dispute, but some US congressmen have openly condemned the Iraqi forces' takeover of Kirkuk.

Ranjbarzadeh called on the KRG to respect the Iraqi Constitution, warning that Iraqi forces could bring KRG under their own control if they wanted to do so.


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