US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressing the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in March. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United States “does not recognize” Kurdistan’s independence referendum, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced in a statement Friday evening.
“The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq,” read the statement.
Tillerson said that aspirations of stability and prosperity in the Kurdistan Region “cannot be advanced through unilateral measures such as this referendum.”
He called for calm and for Baghdad to “reject threats or even allusion to possible use of force,” while urging Kurdish leaders to “respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, at the request of the parliament, ordered the deployment of troops to disputed areas following the vote.
Iraqi forces have also engaged in military exercises with Turkey near the Turkey-Kurdistan border and on Wednesday, Iraq’s army chief of staff visited Tehran to discuss enhancing military cooperation.
Tillerson asked all parties “including Iraq’s neighbours, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force.”
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.