Iraqi Lawmakers Reject Pending Kurdish Independence Vote

Iraqi Lawmakers Reject Pending Kurdish Independence Vote

Speaker Salim al-Jabouri stated that the Iraqi MPs' vote on rejecting the referendum "shows the parliament's keenness on the unity of Iraq's land and people".

The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because it comes as the Iraqi forces are in fight against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Bozdag said: "This referendum is of no benefit to (Kurdish regional President Masoud) Barzani, it is of no benefit to Kurds, it is of no benefit to the people of the region".

The US and several European countries also expressed their opposition to the referendum, raising fears that Kurdish populations in nearby countries would also demand a similar vote.

The council of Iraq's eastern province of Diyala on Tuesday rejected conducting Kurdish independence referendum slated for September 25 in some of its territories, which are part of the disputed areas between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

"We are holding the Daesh families under tight security measures and waiting for government orders on how to deal with them", said Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie from Mosul's Nineveh operation command.

The minister said: "I call on Mr. Barzani to call off this referendum".

The Iraqi Kurdish region was created in 1992, and calls for independence have gained impetus following a 2003 US-led invasion, which toppled former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Kurdish leaders have later said a "yes" vote would pave the way for the start of "serious negotiations" with the Baghdad government.

At a press conference, Ali Dayini, head of Diyala's provincial assembly, announced that the council had voted not to include the province in the upcoming poll, which is slated to be held later this month.

The town lies on a major fault line of Arab-Kurdish tensions because it is located in oil-rich Kirkuk - a province contested by the Baghdad government and the autonomous Kurdish region and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen.

The United States has maintained that the timing of the referendum "is wrong", citing the war against ISIS.

Iran and Turkey, which have dismissed the referendum as "wrong" and a "mistake", offered to mediate between Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan, and Baghdad.

"The only obstacle serves the interest of regional countries and aims at weakening Kurdistan", he said.

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