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Published On: Sun, Aug 13th, 2017

US Secretary of State calls on Kurdistan independence referendum to be postponed

nsnbc : US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Massoud Barzani, President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KAR) to delay a referendum on the region’s independence scheduled for September 2017.

Rex Tillerson (archives)

Rex Tillerson (archives)

The office of KAR President Massoud Barzani, on Friday, issued a statement according to which Tillerson has asked Barzani by phone to postpone the referendum. Tillerson reportedly also called for dialog between the Kurdistan Autonomous Region and the central government in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

However, Barzani’s office also stated that there is no alternative to the referendum at this stage. Tillerson’s statement came after Brett McGurk, US envoy to the coalition against ISIS, a week ago, said the US firmly opposes the referendum. McGurk stressed that lack of coordination between all forces in Iraq and disputes between Erbil and Baghdad could severely compromise the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Tillerson, for his part, reportedly also praised a decision by the Kurdish region’s political leadership to send a delegation to Baghdad to hold talks with Iraqi officials to discuss the upcoming poll. Barzani, for his part, told Tillerson that the planned referendum was aimed at realizing the Kurdish region’s longstanding desire for regional coexistence. Barzani blamed Baghdad for pushing Kurdistan onto a path of self-determination.

“On the issue of postponing the referendum Barzani said to the US Secretary of State that the kind of coexistence that the Kurdistan Region had worked for with the state of Iraq in the past and over various stages was not implemented, and that is why the people of Kurdistan have decided to take their own path,” the statement continued. Barzani had asked “what kind of guarantees and alternatives are there for the future of Kurdistan?”

On June 7 the political parties in Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region agreed to hold a referendum in September. However the Gorran (Change Movement) also suggests that the referendum should be postponed.

F/AK- nsnbc 13.08.2017

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