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UPDATED: Erbil prepared to postpone referendum if Baghdad agrees to a date, source

By Rudaw 17/8/2017
Head of the Kurdistan delegation to  Baghdad to discuss referendum  Rozh Nuri Shaweys [L] and the Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite National Alliance met on August  15, 2017 in Baghdad. Photo :Hakim's media office
Head of the Kurdistan delegation to Baghdad to discuss referendum Rozh Nuri Shaweys [L] and the Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite National Alliance met on August 15, 2017 in Baghdad. Photo :Hakim's media office
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Kurdistan referendum delegation in Baghdad has taken a softer line when they met with Iraq’s ruling Shiite National Alliance on Wednesday, saying they are prepared to delay the referendum “for a short time” if Baghdad, under the auspices of the international community, promises to set another date for the referendum, a member of the delegation told Rudaw Thursday.
Erbil has so far refused to postpone the referendum, despite calls from Baghdad, and its neighbours such as Turkey and Iran. It even turned down such a request from the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he made a phone call with the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani earlier this month.
The source who asked not to be named told Rudaw that there is “a small chance” that the Kurdistan Region would agree to postpone the referendum until after the Iraqi elections if Baghdad gives guarantees to give the go ahead for the referendum at a later date.
The guarantee should come “in writing” and be observed by the United Nations and the United States, the source explained.
A named member of the delegation told Rudaw Thursday that the decision to postpone the vote lies with the High Referendum Council headed by President Masoud Barzani.
The delegation is expected to meet once again this weekend with the National Alliance and resume negotiations.
Each side is preparing their stances between now and the meeting later this week, the source said, also confirmed by Romio Hakari, another member of the delegation, adding that Baghdad should also agree to implement a number of articles of the Iraqi constitution which the Kurdistan Region say have been violated by Baghdad, chief among them Article 140, and the budget cut.
Hakari, who is a Christian member of the delegation, told Rudaw on Thursday that the Alliance has promised to solve all outstanding issues between the two governments.
“They emphasized that they are ready to solve all the reasons that pushed [Erbil] to make a decision  to hold the referendum, so that there is no need to hold the referendum,” Hakarai said about the Shiite Alliance whom he said are the ones who undertake decisions in Baghdad.
He said the Kurdistani delegation will “prepare a timeline for many of the problems, so that [solving] the problems would not take a long time — many years as it was the case.”
He said in addition to the scheduled meeting this week, there will be “many meetings” to come between the Alliance and Erbil.
Asked whether the Kurdistan Region is prepared to postpone the referendum for a short period of time if all problems between the two governments resolved, Hakari said that it is his personal opinion that in that case it is better to postpone the vote “for a period of time.” He added though that the decision to postpone the vote lies with the High Referendum Council back in Erbil.
Erbil has prepared a lengthy report that it claims proves Iraq violated about 50 articles of the Iraqi constitution.
Saadi Ahmad Pira, a member of the delegation, told reporters Wednesday evening before their meeting with the National Alliance that it would be a “very important” meeting with regard to the referendum talks in Baghdad.
He said that all members of the Alliance, which also includes Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Dawa party, will attend the meeting. Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, who is the former prime minister, is the head of the Dawa party.
The delegation visited Baghdad on Monday, and plans to stay there until next Monday. They have met with Iraqi and foreign officials in the Iraqi capital, including with members of the Alliance separately.
PM Abadi, VP Maliki, and Iraq’s parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri, among others, have said that any step taken by the Kurdistan Region, including the referendum, should have a constitutional backing.

Baghdad calls the referendum unconstitutional, unilateral and it does not recognize the results.
Asked whether they have agreed to postpone the referendum as demanded by Iraq and the foreign embassies they have met with, Rozh Nuri Shaweys, head of the Kurdistani delegation, told reporters on Tuesday that they refused to do so, adding that they think the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad has reached a point that needs “radical solutions” manifested in a referendum.
“We did not agree to postpone the referendum. We find it necessary to hold the referendum on its time,” Shaweys added.
The delegation met with Abadi on Monday.
The PM said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday that the current Iraqi “borders are not sacred,” but added that any changes should come through mutual agreement.
“You want to redraw the borders? Then let’s have an understanding about it. It cannot be done unilaterally,” he added.
He said the discussion between the two sides fell into the area of “how can we all live in one, united Iraq,” something the head of the Kurdistani delegation denied.
Shaweys said that the delegation did “not emphasize the territorial integrity of Iraq.”
Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim, who has just returned from a visit to the United States, told Rudaw on Wednesday that the United States wants the referendum to be postponed because they think if the Kurdistan Region takes part in the Iraqi general elections next year, it will increase the chances of Abadi winning a second term in office. He said the United States believes with Abadi in power, Iran would have less influence in the country.


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Azad | 17/8/2017
All calling USA a friend should expect exactly this. If Kurdistan have a friend like US which is against Kurdish independence then forget indipendence. But if Kurdistan rely on itself and not on others it could make its own decisions. Look at other states and their allies they support each other with everything indipendence sovaignity etc. But US just wants Kurds as tool in a united Iraq rellying on them to control them. Kurds who call USA a friend have no right to support referendum, if you trust US and rely on them then accept to postpone the referendum because you best friend USA is behind this decision.
Muraz Adzhoev | 17/8/2017
No, the referendum will not be postponed and is to be held on time. The referendum will reintegrate all areas and communities of independent Southern Kurdistan. And then Erbil and Baghdad will sit down to conclude a treaty on bilateral relations, as well as on demarcation of sovereign borders between Kurdistan and Iraq. Rudaw's "source" would better shut up, because there is no "chance" to postpone the referendum. It is well known that Baghdad's even "written guarantees" are nothing at all. There is absolutely no need and no reason to postpone the already upcoming referendum on reintegration and independence of Southern Kurdistan from deadly failed Iraqi Arab Islamic federation.
D Kurd | 17/8/2017
The referendum is the total right of the Kurdish people and others, we will not postpone and no one should scare us with their fake and shallow rhetoric. Iran, Abadi and USA let them sort out their problems by their own, it's nothing to do with us, we re going to vote and independent Kurdistan is coming soon.
BijiKurdOKurdistan | 17/8/2017
If, i say if this happen. Sorry, but are the leaders ready to lie to all the kurds? We said 25 september. And we know that the iraqis will probably say, that they will gurantee. But the outcome will be a deception. And maybe by then we might not see a chance for a referendum in the next 10-100 years. And of course, the new iraqi election in 2018, anything can change for the worst, since iraq was bound to be doomed as a nation in terms of how it lead its people and how they negotiate with the neighbors. They are full of shiite metaphorically speaking.
ALAN | 17/8/2017
Kurdistan shall not postpone don't believe ANYTHING from Baghdad, not implementing article 140 and ignoring 19 point paper which led to Maliki cabinet didn't teach Kurdish leaders anything???

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