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Kurdistan refuses current US-backed alternative to referendum

By Rudaw 17/9/2017
The Kurdish leadership are to discuss a US-backed alternative calls on Erbil to postpone the vote. Phoot: Rudaw/Sartip Othman
The Kurdish leadership are to discuss a US-backed alternative calls on Erbil to postpone the vote. Phoot: Rudaw/Sartip Othman

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Top Kurdish leadership have decided to refuse the current US-backed alternative to the referendum as it did not “include the necessary guarantees” that can convince the people of Kurdistan to postpone the vote, a statement from the High Referendum Council that is headed by President Masoud Barzani read Sunday night.

While it praised the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations to have offered to present the alternative, the meeting said that it did not meet their demands.

“The process of the referendum will continue because the suggestions that have been presented until now don’t include the necessary guarantees that could meet the satisfaction and conviction of our people,” the statement read as it explained that the Referendum Council assessed the alternative.

It added that the talks with the international community will continue “with a constructive and responsible spirit” to achieve the rights of the people to statehood.

“To achieve the right to self-determination for our nation, we continue the process of talks and dialogue with all related parties of the international community,” the statement added.

The Referendum Council demanded the Kurdish election body to continue its preparations to hold the referendum for independence on September 25, a Turkmen official who attended the meeting Saturday evening told reporters.

Muna Qahwachi said that there are "no changes" to the Kurdish plans on the vote and that the referendum would take place at its stated time. She also said that they will continue to have talks with every country on the issue of the vote. 

A source from the meeting also told Rudaw earlier that the meeting has not made a final decision yet on the US-backed alternative that seeks to postpone the historic vote.

The decision comes following a high level meeting of the Referendum Council that was headed by President Barzani and was attended by the majority of the Kurdish parties plus Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Sunday afternoon in Erbil. Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim, whose constituency is also included in the referendum, also attended the meeting.

The Kurdish parliament voted on Friday by a majority to back the vote as scheduled.

The United States along with the United Kingdom, and the United Nations presented the alternative, something President Barzani had described as not "better" than the mechanism of referendum.

The White House issued a statement Friday that called on the KRG to call off the vote citing fears that it may negatively affect the war against ISIS. The UK published a similar statement on Saturday.

Iraq opposes the vote calling it unconstitutional and a "threat" against the unity of Iraq. Erbil says they were pushed to seek independence as Iraq violated about one third of the Iraqi constitution, including Article 140 that concerns the fate of the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

12:17 p.m. 

Kurdish leadership to discuss US-backed ‘alternative’ to referendum Sunday

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the United States on Sunday against any “wrong move” to Tehran’s nuclear deal saying they will react strongly if provoked by the US government.
“The Iranian nation is standing firm and any wrong move by the domineering regime regarding the (nuclear accord) will face the reaction of the Islamic Republic,” state television quoted Ayatollah Khamenei as saying, Reuters reported.
Khamenei’s comments came after US President Donald Trump had said on Thursday that Tehran was violating “the spirit” of the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Today, despite all the commitments and discussions in the negotiations, America’s attitude toward these negotiations and their outcome is completely unjust and amounts to bullying,” Khamenei said in the televised speech to Iranian military academy graduates.
“The Americans should know that the Iranian people will stand firm on their honorable positions and on important issues related to national interests, there will be no retreat by the Islamic Republic,” he added.
The Trump administration on Thursday extended sanctions relief to Iran, avoiding imminent action that could implode the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, even as President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Tehran of not respecting the entire agreement.
In comments to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump repeated his campaign pronouncement that the deal is bad and again said he believes Iran is violating its terms and spirit.
"We are not going to stand for what they are doing to this country," Trump said. "They have violated so many elements but they have also violated the spirit of that deal."
Speaking in London at a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson., Tillerson told reporters the administration's approach to Iran could not be determined on the basis of the nuclear accord alone.

"We must take into account the totality of Iranian threats, not just its nuclear capabilities," he said, citing obligations to uphold regional and international security.

"Iran is clearly in defiance of these obligations," Tillerson said, pointing to its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, cyber activity and testing of ballistic missiles.
The nuclear sanctions waivers are America's part of the deal's central bargain.
In exchange for Tehran rolling back its atomic program, the U.S. and other world powers agreed to suspend wide-ranging oil, trade and financial penalties that had choked the Iranian economy.
Under U.S. law, the president must certify to Congress every 90 days whether Iran is adhering to the agreement. If the president doesn't certify compliance, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions lifted under the agreement.

However UN inspectors released a report earlier this month stating Iran was in compliance with the deal.

“Iran has conducted its enrichment activities in line” with the plan agreed in the 2015 deal with world powers, stated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
IAEA monitors Iran’s compliance via site visits, remote monitoring, containment seals, and satellite imagery. 
The next certification deadline is Oct. 15 and several officials and people close to the matter have described Trump as determined to "decertify" Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal at that point - a finding that would jeopardize the entire agreement.


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Muraz Adzhoev | 17/9/2017
If the population of Southern Kurdistan is threatened by the use of the Iraqi or any other hostile forces, then the Kurdistan commander-in-chief will order the Peshmerga army, security and police forces to respond militarily, to defeat and drive all "uninvited guests" far away from the sovereign territory of the People of Southern Kurdistan. Baghdad should be warned officially that the threatening language is absolutely unacceptable and not in favor of the two neighboring countries, both Iraq and Kurdistan
azad | 17/9/2017
What happens if we hold referendum and declare independence? Baghdad and Iran will shut its border with us and its likely Baghdad will attack Kirkuk through proxy shia millitias. They will not use airstrikes beause its too controversial against kurds so peshmerga will have a chance. But I'm not sure if peshmerga can hold it because Baghdad have better weopens. The U.S. will hesitate to intervene because Baghdad is more important to their "war against terror" than Erbil. We cannot rely on public oppinion in the west to call for intervention because it comes slow and probably not strong enough. By then it will be too late. Do westerners really care about kurds? I don't think they do. Meanwhile KRG's only open lifeline is the Turkish border. Turks could easily shut the border. AT that point we will be 100 % besieged. Oil will not be sold through Ceyhan. No exports/imports. Economy will collaps. Or Turkey could keep the border open and maybe even help us defend against Baghdad. For this reason Turkey have the most power of any country on this matter. Regardless of what you might think about Turkey this is the truth. Maybe a secret deal can be made with Turkey. They keep the border open and we give them something in return. Maybe special status for turkmen areas of Kirkuk, even turkish authority over these areas. This would also serve as protection against invasion from Baghdad and it will be popular in Turkey. But even this might not be enough. But its a start for negotiations with Turkey. They have the key to kurdish independence in KRG.
roger | 17/9/2017
It's a vote not a declaration of independence but the international community and Baghdad will hear the voice of the people would do well to take note.
Yekbûn | 17/9/2017
There is no alternative but independence! YAN KURDISTAN YAN NAMAN!
Help the Ezidis | 17/9/2017
Unbeleivable that some politicians even talk about postponing the referendum. They are making the people uncertain: that is irresponsible behaviour. The people are waiting for 2000 years for this referendum and just because some states are mounting pressure on them - this pressure will increase till the referendum - they are becoming more nervous. Please go on with the referendum!!!

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