US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on September 21, 2017 in New York City. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The US State Department has said that despite being “deeply disappointed” by the Kurdish independence referendum, its relations with the Kurdish people “will not change.”
The Kurdish people voted in high numbers on Monday to decide whether they want to leave Iraq. The final results
are yet to be announced by the Kurdish electoral body, but a 'Yes' vote is highly expected.
The vote took place despite unprecedented and coordinated pressures from regional governments such as Turkey and Iran as well as the central government of Iraq which consider the vote unconstitutional and unilateral.
The Iraqi parliament voted on Monday to commit the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to deploy troops to the areas that came under the control of the Kurdish forces after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“The United States opposes violence and unilateral moves by any party to alter boundaries,” the statement read.
The Kurdish officials, including President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani insist that the referendum
is not to redraw borders. They say such issues, among others, are open for negotiations with Baghdad.
President Barzani however repeatedly said that they will never agree to negotiate the so-called Green Line that used to separate the Kurdish Peshmerga and the former Iraqi regime before the invasion, meaning that Kurdish forces will not withdraw to pre-2003 borders.
Monday's statement, attributed to the spokesmen of the State Department, read that the September 25 vote “will increase instability and hardships for the Kurdistan region and its people,” and that it will will “greatly complicate” the relationship of the Kurdish government with Iraq, and its neighbors.
“The United States' historic relationship with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will not change in light of today's non-binding referendum,” it continued.
The United States had all along opposed the timing of the Kurdish vote, mainly citing fears that it would negatively affect the war against ISIS.