Referendum to Lead to Iraqi Kurds’ Isolation: Iran’s Shamkhani
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said attempts to hold an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan Region will result in isolation of the Kurds and undermine not only the autonomous Kurdish region but the entire country.
“Pursuing the issue of holding a referendum for partition and creating division in the Iraqi nation … is not consistent with any of the priorities and real needs of the (Iraqi) people and is at odds with the prudence and policy of Iraqi officials,” Shamkhani said Monday in a meeting in Tehran with Abdulla Rasul Ali, the first deputy for the Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
“While this issue (independence referendum) may appear attractive, in actual fact it would lead to isolation and pressure on Iraqi Kurds and weaken Kurdistan and, ultimately, the entire Iraq,” he added.
Stressing that some regional and trans-regional countries seek to undermine Iraq and other major countries in West Asia, Shamkhani said such “colonialist schemes” should not be allowed to materialize.
“What the Islamic Republic of Iran wishes for the people, parties and groups in northern Iraq is security, economic development and welfare, whose realization would be a major barrier to the growth and activity of terrorist groups,” he went on to say.
Rasul Ali, for his part, hailed the Islamic Republic for its constant support for Iraqi Kurds, noting that Iran was the only country to help Iraqi Kurdistan Region prevent a security tragedy when Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) Takfiri terrorists were getting close to the gates of Erbil, the region’s capital.
Officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region have announced that the northern territory will hold an independence referendum on September 25.
Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), announced the vote last month.
The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq is planned to be held in the three governorates that make up the Kurdish region and in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and Iraqi governments but are currently under Kurdish military control.
The disputed areas include the key oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
Iran has voiced opposition to the plan, reiterating its policy of supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity.
In June, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s principled and clear stance is supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity and coherence.”
“The Kurdistan Region is part of the Republic of Iraq,” he underlined.
The spokesman warned that unilateral decisions which are out of step with Iraq’s national and legal norms would only result in new problems in the Arab country, particularly in the current complicated situation in the region and given hostile attempts to drag out instability in Iraq.
“A united, stable and democratic Iraq would guarantee the interests of all people of that country from every sect and religion,” Qassemi added.
The Iranian diplomat also stressed that any disagreement between Erbil and Baghdad should be settled through dialogue, national compromise and with respect for the Iraqi constitution.