Kurds Vote in Independence Referendum, Turkey: Turkey: Outcome Null, Void

Barzani Kurdistan referendum

September 25, 2017

Iraqi Kurds started voting in an independence referendum Monday in defiance of Baghdad which has warned of “measures” to defend Iraq’s unity and threatened to deprive their region of lifeline oil revenues.

The non-binding vote on the Kurds’ long-cherished dream of independence, initiated by veteran leader Massud Barzani, has angered not only the federal government but also neighboring Turkey and Iran.

Polling stations are scattered across the three northern provinces of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan — Arbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk — as well as in disputed bordering zones such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

A total of 12,072 polling stations for the more than 5.3 million registered voters are to stay open for 12 hours.

Barzani, smiling and wearing a traditional outfit, cast his vote early in the morning, Kurdish news agency Rudaw said.

Initial results are expected to be announced 24 hours after the vote.

As Barzani pledged on Sunday to go ahead with the historic referendum, Iraq’s leader pledged to take all the “necessary measures” to protect the country’s unity and his government targeted the Kurds’ oil sales.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that taking the Kurds’ unilateral decision to stage a referendum affected both Iraqi and regional security, and was “unconstitutional and against civil peace”.

“We will take the necessary measures to preserve the unity of the country,” he said, without elaborating.

Hours later, the Iraqi government at a meeting of its security cabinet called on all countries “to deal only with it on matters of oil and borders”.

Source: AFP

Meanwlile,

Turkish Foreign Ministry said it did not recognize the referendum and would view its outcome as null and void, adding that the KRG was threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and the whole region.

Iran has closed its airspace to all flights to and from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq at the request of the country’s federal government, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said.

“At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Erbil airports as well as all flights through our country’s airspace originating in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region have been halted,” Keyvan Khosravi, a spokesman for the SNSC, said on Sunday.

He added that the decision had been made during an emergency session of the SNSC earlier in the day after Iran’s “political” efforts proved ineffective in the face of Kurdish officials’ insistence on holding a planned referendum on the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

The Iranian official warned that hasty decisions made by some officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region would limit the power of Kurds for engaging in constructive dialogue within Iraq’s government structure and would also pose serious challenges to security of Kurdish people, the entire Iraq as well as the region.

There are conflicting reports as to whether a referendum on possible secession of the Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday will go ahead as planned after several regional officials warned the vote could have serious consequences.

The high council for referendum affairs, which is supervised by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, rejected reports of a postponement as rumors, the Kurdistan 24 news station said.

Iraq’s government has called the referendum unconstitutional.

The planned referendum has raised fears of a fresh conflict in the region, which is trying to emerge from years of ISIL campaign of death and destruction.

Source: Press TV

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