MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Iraqi Vice President Nouri Maliki, an opponent of Kurdistan independence, said Sunday that Baghdad will not put up with the emergence of "another Israel" in Iraq's north, referring to the upcoming independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.
“We will not allow the establishment of another Israel in northern Iraq,” Maliki said, following a meeting with the US ambassador in Iraq, as quoted by the Iraqi News outlet.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Tel Aviv was supportive of Kurdish efforts to create their own state. He expressed a "positive attitude" toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, calling the Kurds "brave, pro-Western people who share our [Israeli] values." Iraqi Vice President Maliki, on the contrary, stressed that the independence bid was unconstitutional, and urged the cancellation of the referendum.
On June 7, President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the autonomous region from Iraq on September 25, a decision which created an uproar in Baghdad and several other countries, including Turkey and Iran.
Several Western countries proposed a postponement of the planned independence referendum if a suitable alternative could be found. Barzani, however, ruled out any alternative to the independence plebiscite and called on the Kurdish people to cast their votes on September 25. He explained that these offers do not contain the guarantees that would be suitable for the residents of the region and thus the referendum will take place as scheduled.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed that the referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan independence was bad timing, as a unilateral decision to hold it now would detract from the need to fight Daesh while delaying the much-needed reconstruction of the regained territories. Observing the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq, Guterres urged both sides to hold constructive dialogue.