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Rudaw

Kurdistan

US: If referendum proceeds, int'l support for Erbil-Baghdad talks ‘foreclosed’

By Rudaw 21/9/2017
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers a speech in New York with his press spokesperson Heather Nauert (not pictured) present on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 20. Photo: Brendan Smialowski | AFP
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers a speech in New York with his press spokesperson Heather Nauert (not pictured) present on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 20. Photo: Brendan Smialowski | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States has called it “highly unlikely” that Erbil and Baghdad will have international support for negotiations, if the Kurdistan Region holds its independence referendum scheduled for Monday.

“The United States urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners, on all matters of concern, including the future of the Baghdad-Erbil relationship,” read a US State Department statement released on Wednesday.

Over the past week, the United States, United Nations, United Kingdom, and other nations have offered to facilitate dialogue between the central and regional governments.

"If this referendum is conducted, it is highly unlikely that there will be negotiations with Baghdad, and the above international offer of support for negotiations will be foreclosed,” added the statement.

During the tripartite visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region last week, the visiting delegation presented an alternative in place of the holding the referendum on September 25 to Kurdish leaders including President Masoud Barzani.

The details of the alternative were not publicly revealed by the US Special Envoy to Global Coalition Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk, who then called the referendum “ill-advised,” “ill-timed,” and lacking “international legitimacy.” He also said that was the position of all “entire coalition.” The Coalition is comprised of 69 nations. The United States has repeatedly claimed that the referendum will distract from the fight against ISIS, which Kurdish Peshmerga officials have rejected.

The alternative was studied by Kurdish leadership and referred to the High Referendum Council. On Friday, the majority of members in the Kurdish parliament voted to support the referendum process.

“The Kurds can be proud already of what the referendum process has produced, including more Kurdish unity, reviving the Kurdish parliament for the first time in nearly two years, and placing important issues on the international stage, with partners and friends prepared to build on the spirit of cooperation seen between Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga in the campaign against ISIS to help resolve outstanding issues. ‎Unfortunately, the referendum next week will jeopardize all of this momentum and more,” added the US statement.

President Barzani reiterated his stance yesterday in Sulaimani — so far there is “unfortunately no alternatives” offered to take the place of the referendum.

He explained that the “referendum is to reach a sacred objective, that is independence.”

 “We are prepared to enter serious, very friendly, and honest talks with Baghdad, with the international community, or with the support of the international community, so that we solve all the problems,” Barzani said, noting that afterwards, Kurdistan will be neighbors with Iraq.

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki rejected a UN-sponsored initiative aimed at finding a solution on disputes between Baghdad and Erbil regarding the Kurdish independence referendum.

Maliki, who released a statement in his role as the head of Iraq’s ruling State of Law Coalition on Wednesday, said that they reject an initiative by the UN Envoy to Iraq because it contains sections that are “unconstitutional.”

The statement added that the initiative was presented by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, and they reject in particular a section that calls for a time limit for talks, something he called a “pre-condition.”

Jan Kubis is the UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General in Iraq. His office was not able to comment on the issue of the referendum following Maliki's statement.

Monday’s referendum will ask people in the Kurdistan Region, Kurdish diaspora, and in the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by Erbil and Baghdad whose local governments have chosen to participate: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the administration of the Region to become an independent state: ‘Yes’ or ‘No?’ ”


President Barzani explained on Wednesday that separation is a process.

“If it needs time, one year or at the latest two years, we can solve all the problems within these two years. And then we can say ‘goodbye’ in a friendly way,” said the president.

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duroi | 21/9/2017
Kurds will cross the post referendum negotiation bridge when their independence caravan comes to it. When there is a will, there is a way .... . Let's focus on crossing the referendum bridge first and do not get distracted.
ardalan resul | 21/9/2017
In order to became a full fledged partner in any body or any discussion, you have to be a sovereign entity. As kurds lack its own sovereignty it can never take part in any process as equal partners. Because of that, the referendum is a necessity for kurds to gain its sovereignty by the majority of kurdistan peopel " consisting of muslims,christians ,yazidis, zaradostrians,judaizms,kakayis,shabaks,unbelievers ...." says Yes to independense. Then the peopel of kurdistan as a de facto sovereing peopel and a free entity is a full blown partner that can take part in any discussion that matters its own interests and have a legitim demands about them.
Meeran | 21/9/2017
Kurdish Leaders and media constantly were attacking his people faith and believe to please western world, and show them that they are same as them. in return, this is what you get. I lived in UK before I never saw this many US flag raised in UK (American ally) as much as i see it in Kurdistan. this is what you get back in return from your master that you believed they will be there and support you. they only came to help because you were needed to fight ISIS, now ISIS is no longer in Iraq or reduced. USA doesn't see you as worthy of a friend or ally to have a sovereign nation. what are the irony in the face of Kurdish leader. and those almost worship USA in Kurdistan. if you have done half as much for Iran, turkey or Iraq central government of what you did for USA they would support you more. dont get me wrong i do not agree to do anything for anyone except do what is right for your people and do not rely on western countries thinking they will support you
Lupus | 21/9/2017
The Kurdish vote is the same as the British Brexit vote, despite all threats the British have voted.
Midwest | 21/9/2017
The United States is not going to abandon Kurdistan. Even when the referendum is held against the stated desires of my nation. The bond between our people's is stronger than ever and we will not allow threats of violence from Baghdad and the mullahs in Iran to manifest without punishment. So far, it seems to me that the Kurds are playing it masterfully.
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