On Thursday, officials from the UN, the US, and the UK met with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani to propose a plan to delay an independence referendum – scheduled on September 25 – for two years, according to Kurdish sources.
The sources said that the US, the UN and the UK are worried that the referendum might have a negative effect on the ongoing war on ISIS.
Special Presidential Envoy for the US-led coalition Brett McGurk said during a press conference in Erbil that he hopes the Iraqi Kurdish leadership will accept the plan to delay the referendum. Moreover, Brett McGurk described the Kurdistan region referendum as a “risky” move because there is no international support for it at this moment.
“We did of course reiterate the position of the United States that this referendum is ill time and it is not something that we can support,” McGurk said at the press conference.
From its said the Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) said that Barzani will discuss the proposed alternative plan with the leadership of Kurdistan and to respond officially to it later.
However, Kurdish sources reported that Barzani said on Thursday at a public gathering in support of the upcoming referendum in Zakho city that the referendum will not be delayed. Barzani also said at Zakho that the Iraqi government didn’t leave any space for negotiations.
In a related development, Tukey Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag called the Kurdistan region upcoming independents referendum a “historic mistake”. Furthermore, Bozdag welcomed the Iraqi Parliament rejection of the referendum.
“Barzani’s referendum decision is a historic mistake. Turkey will follow policies that take Iraq’s territorial integrity as a basis … The northern Iraq referendum must be canceled, if not it will have a cost and retribution,” Bozdag said.
On Thursday, the Iraqi Parliament in a majority vote decided to remove the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim who is a supporter of the Kurdistan Region independence. Karim also backed the idea to hold the vote in the province of Kirkuk that is not a part of Iraqi Kurdistan Region.
So far, the majority of Iraqis including Sunnis, Shiites, Turkmen and Assyrians have opposed to the Kurdistan Region independence referendum. Many Kurdish parties and public figures also stand against the referendum that could place Kurdistan Region under siege, or even could start a war.