United States ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Wiki Media

Court spokesman Ayas al-Samouk said it had "received several complaints", as a parliamentary source said at least eight lawmakers had called on the court to intervene on constitutional grounds.

The referendum is scheduled for 25 September, when several million Kurds are urged to vote for the independence of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq.

The two sides cooperated in the battle against Islamic State but many Iraqis wonder whether the central government can unite a country that has suffered sectarian and ethnic violence since a US -led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"New crises in the region, such as bids for independence, could spark new conflicts and must therefore be avoided at all costs", he said.

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said he would try to persuade Barzani at a meeting later Monday in the Kurdish capital of Arbil.

Washington does not appear to oppose the idea of an independent Kurdish state at all, but it says holding the referendum now might harm the fight against Daesh in the country. "We are committed to the integrity of Iraq".

Government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said Tuesday the vote is being driven by a sick mentality and warned it threatened to spark regional chaos.

In November 2015, Kurdish forces, with support from coalition fighter jets including Canadian CF-18s, helped push ISIL out of the city of Sinjar. But the Kurdish Regional Government, led by Masoud Barzani, wants to send a message to Baghdad as well as the outside world that its aspirations for independence are genuine and have popular resonance.

This week, top U.S. envoy Brett McGurk was again in Arbil and attempted to persuade the Kurdish leader to call off the highly-charged popular vote in exchange for a new diplomatic initiative.

Borders and military forces would remain in their current positions, and Baghdad would authorize Kurdistan to continue exporting the oil that it now ships through Turkey in breach of the federal constitution.

The KRG has already expanded the territory it effectively controls and its peshmerga security forces have seized areas outside its borders from IS.

Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 16, 2017.

He said, "The regional government led by the Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani misinterpreted the West and thought their alliance with the West gave them the sense of legitimacy for kicking off the one-sided process which they started without consulting the opposition in the parliament". Rumours are rife that rival communities are stockpiling arms.

The vote will be "particularly provocative and destabilizing" in the so-called contested areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, including the ethnically diverse areas of Sinjar and Kobane - which straddles the Iraqi-Turkish border - and the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk said in a statement last Friday.

A day earlier, Turkey began military drills with 100 vehicles including tanks on the Iraqi border. Ankara could even increase pressure by using its position as one of Arbil's largest trade partners and as the host of a Kurdish oil pipeline to cut off energy revenues to the KRG.

Kurdish oil is now brought to market through the Ceyhan pipeline which brings it to two ports in Turkey.

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