Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, said that the Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq scheduled for 25th September “should not happen.”
“I spoke to this in Baghdad last week. I saw Prime Minister Abadi, I saw President Barzani, we consulted with everybody. We do not think the referendum should happen in September,” he said.
“We think that under the Iraqi constitution there is an important process of dialogue that has to take place. And having a referendum on such a fast timeline, particularly in disputed areas, would be, we think, significantly destabilizing and we’ve made those views very clear,” McGurk said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are in consultations with all parties. I think the delegation that came from Baghdad to Erbil yesterday to talk about some of these very difficult issues is a positive sign. That’s the type of dialogue I think we need to see,” he stated.
Moreover, the US official says there are still many areas to be cleared from ISIS.
“But right now ISIS is not finished. We have to be very clear about that. They’re in Tal Afar, just south of the Kurdistan region. They’re in Hawija, just south of Kirkuk. The Hawija operation will be very, very complex,” he said.
“It’ll involve Iraqi Security Forces, it’ll involve Peshmerga. So this is not the time to hold a referendum in these areas, and I think we’ve made that very clear and I think we’ve – right now I think there’s a dialogue process going on and we’re going to leave it – we’re going to leave it there,” he concluded.
Furthermore, the American official emphasized the importance of the ministerial delegation that came from Baghdad to Kurdistan last week.
“We had very important meetings with the Kurds over the past couple days, and we were very encouraged by an important ministerial delegation from Baghdad that went to Erbil yesterday to discuss issues of oil, electricity, bank exchanges – all sort of things,” he added.
Last week, in a press conference in Baghdad, the coalition envoy also expressed his opposition to the referendum.
“On the referendum, I think we’ve made our opposition to holding this referendum on September 25th quite clear. And we’ve called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to reconsider the decision,” McGurk said.
“And we urge on the pursuit of dialogue with the Central Government on the basis of the Iraqi constitution. All eyes right now must remain fixed on the enemy of Daesh, which is not defeated. And Hawija alone will be a very complicated campaign. And so anything that would distract against completing this mission is something that we will not support. And I think we’ve made that quite clear,” he said.
However, Hemin Hawrami, senior assistant to Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, previously stated that there will never be an ideal timing for planning an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.
“For those who say that it is not good timing for referendum, they don’t say when is good timing. There is no ideal timing,” Hawrami said.
“None of the regional and international community players stated that they are against the natural right of self determination for Kurdistan. The time has changed, Kurds are no longer an easy factor or player to be wiped off or ignored. The era of Post-World War I is over,” he concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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source: ARA News