05:13 GMT +321 October 2019
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    A flag of the autonomous Kurdistan region flies as Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position to monitor the area from their front line post in Bashiqa, a town 13 kilometres north-east of Mosul (File)

    Iraqi Kurdistan's Independence Referendum May Provoke New Conflict - Turkish PM

    © AFP 2019 / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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    As the independence referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan approaches, Ankara has again warned about the possible consequences of the upcoming vote.

    ANKARA (Sputnik) — Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim urged Friday the authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan to abandon the idea of holding an independence referendum, as it could ultimately provoke a new, unnecessary conflict in the region.

    "We urge the head of the Kurdish regional administration of Iraq Masoud Barzani to avoid this serious mistake, as there are already enough problems in the region, such as the fight against the IS [Islamic State, Daesh, ISIS, banned in Russia] and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party, banned in Turkey], and the long-standing civil war in Syria. It this case, another conflict may arise, which will primarily hurt our Kurdish brothers living in the region," Yildirim told reporters.

    According to Yildirim, the United Nations may join the discussion on this issue in the coming days.

    Asked about the possibility of Turkey imposing sanctions against the Iraqi Kurdistan in the event of a referendum, Yildirim noted that Ankara was "ready to take all necessary steps," while at the same time expressing his hope that Erbil would reverse its intention.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier that Ankara could act as a mediator to solve the most pressing issues between Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

    In June, Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan, set September 25 as the date for an independence referendum. The announced referendum has been widely criticized by a number of countries, including Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States. While Moscow voiced support for Iraq's unity and territorial integrity, Washington reportedly asked Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani to postpone holding the region's independence referendum. Earlier this week, the Iraqi parliament voted against the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum.

    Leader of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani said Thursday that he might consider the proposal of several Western countries to postpone the planned referendum if a suitable alternative is found.

    In 2005, the Iraqi Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region that was run by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Since then, Kurdistan’s authorities have repeatedly raised the issue of independence.

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    Tags:
    independence referendum, Binali Yildirim, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, Iraq
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