A Kurdish family heading to a polling station to cast their ballots in the city of Kirkuk in the Kurdistan independence referendum held on September 25, 2017. Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdistan Region Presidency expressed its concerns on Sunday over a statement by the United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who had said the US “does not recognize” Kurdistan’s independence referendum.
“The people of Kurdistan, who have consistently and enthusiastically supported the United States, especially more recently in its fight against ISIS and Saddam Hussein, are deeply disappointed in the statement by Secretary Tillerson on Friday," read a statement from the Presidency.
A statement from Tillerson on Friday
read that “the vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.”
Tillerson said that aspirations of stability and prosperity in the Kurdistan Region “cannot be advanced through unilateral measures such as this referendum.”
In response to Tillerson’s announcement on the independence referendum, the KRP replied “Of all the countries in the world, the United States should appreciate and honor Kurds' decision for independence as manifested by 92% of voters in a free, transparent and peaceful referendum held on September 25.”
The statement which was issued by Dr. Omed Sabah Spokesperson of the Presidency also read “Although we appreciate the United States' call for a nonviolent response to the referendum, neither the United States nor any other country has stopped Baghdad's unconstitutional and illegal mistreatment of the Kurds, which has continued since 2005 when we adopted the Constitution.”
“We hope in the coming days the United States will re-evaluate its position and support wholeheartedly the legitimate aspirations of the people of the Kurdistan Region as well as participate in the peaceful negotiation between Erbil and Baghdad,” it added.
The statement added that the Kurdistan parliament authorized the referendum.
It added that the referendum “is allowed under relevant provisions of the Iraqi Constitution."
“The referendum enabled the people of Kurdistan to exercise the right of self-determination as contained in the UN Charter and at least two subsequent international conventions,” it said.
The US’ official stance has been opposed to Kurdistan’s independence referendum since the beginning, arguing the vote will have a destabilizing effect and throwing its support behind a united Iraq.
Individual American lawmakers have, however, recently expressed support for Kurdistan’s right to self-determination and sovereignty aspirations.
On Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer,
Senate minority leader, released a statement supporting an independent Kurdish state.
On Monday evening, as people cast their ballots, US Congressman Trent Franks
introduced legislation to support Kurdistan’s right of self-determination.
Over 92 percent of voters supported separating from Iraq in Monday’s vote.