TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iraqi Vice-President rejected Kurds’ call for referendum on independence and said that Baghdad will not tolerate the emergence of "another Israel" in its northern autonomous Kurdish region.
“We will not allow establishment of another Israel in northern Iraq,” Nouri Maliki said, following a meeting with the US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, as quoted by the Iraqi News website.
The so-called independence plebiscite “is contrary to the constitution and does not serve the general interests of the Iraqi people, not even the particular interests of the Kurds,” Maliki added.
“We will not allow the creation of a second Israel north of Iraq,” Maliki said at the meeting, according to a statement released by the vice president's office, warning that such a vote would have “dangerous consequences for the security, sovereignty and unity of Iraq.”
He also urged the Kurdish leaders to come to the negotiating table and “call off the referendum.”
Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said on Friday the referendum would go ahead as planned on September 25. The Iraqi Kurdistan region’s ruling party decision to hold referendum was rejected by the Iraqi central government, the country neighbors and also the UN and world powers.
In response to Barzani insistence on referendum for independence, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the Associated Press in an interview on Saturday that Kurdish authorities are “playing with fire” by planning to hold a referendum on the independence of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Iran has also warned about the consequences of referendum and Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told state TV on Sunday that “Iran definitely recognizes only the united, integrated and federal government of Iraq.”
Meantime, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports Iraq's stance on territorial integrity and has warned the Kurdish regional government against holding a referendum on independence.
Speaking to reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before leaving for New York to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Erdogan said, “We will hold a separate meeting with Iraqi Premier Haider al Abadi, but as far as I see, we are looking in the same direction. What is this direction? The territorial integrity of Iraq.”
The Iraqi Kurds’ call for independence was not also welcomed by the world powers, including the US, and also the international bodies, including the United Nations, and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Sunday that any dispute between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan regional government should be resolved through dialogue and "constructive compromise".
Guterres said "any unilateral decision to hold a referendum at this time would detract from the need to defeat ISIL".