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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

US ‘strongly opposes’ Iraqi Kurd referendum

America has offered to facilitate talks

The Kurdish region's referendum is due to take place on September 25. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
The Kurdish region's referendum is due to take place on September 25. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

The US have issued a statement vehemently opposing the planned Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum and has branded it “unnecessary”.

America is urging the referendum organisers to enter negotiations facilitated by the US and the UN, rather than continue with the September 25th vote on Kurdish independence.

“The United States strongly opposes the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence,” the statement reads.

It continues: “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.”.

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With the offer of negotiations on the table, the statement says: “the referendum itself is now all the more unnecessary given the alternative path that has been prepared and endorsed by the United States and the international community.”.

The news comes as Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he will look to discuss “sanctions” against Iraq’s Kurdish region if it goes ahead with its referendum on independence.

Mr Erdogan warned the region’s president Masoud Barzani was making a “mistake” and said he was "isolating himself" as "every country except Israel is against this referendum".

All of Iraq’s neighbouring countries, in addition to the US and EU, have declared their opposition to the referendum which threatens Iraq’s territorial integrity and could lead to violence.

The statement pointed to concerns around the fight against ISIL in Iraq being put at risk as a result of the vote.

“Already the referendum has negatively affected Defeat-ISIS coordination to dislodge ISIS from its remaining areas of control in Iraq. The decision to hold the referendum in disputed areas is especially de-stabilizing, raising tensions which ISIS and other extremist groups are now seeking to exploit.”.

The US statement said if the referendum goes ahead, “it is highly unlikely that there will be negotiations with Baghdad, and the above international offer of support for negotiations will be foreclosed.”.

As a final leverage tool, the statement warned that Iraqi Kurdistan regional trade relations may be jeopardised if the referendum goes ahead.