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Turkey says Iraqi Kurds’ call for independence a ‘serious mistake’

The Iraqi Kurdish region’s plan to hold a referendum on independence from Iraq on September 25 represents a “serious mistake” that would “harm Iraq’s integrity,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

“The protection of Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity is one of the basic principles of Turkey’s Iraq policy.

“This principle lies among the preconditions for lasting stability, peace, security and prosperity in the region,” the statement said.

A top advisor to Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the vote on September would include the contested regions Kirkuk, Khanqin, Sinjar and Makhmor.

Turkey has historically been opposed to an independent Kurdish state as it fears a separatist movement would spread to its own Kurdish population, estimated at 20 per cent.

The Kurdish move comes as efforts are ongoing to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Kurdish forces in both countries are part of the military campaign against the extremist group.

As it called for solidarity in fight against Islamic State, the Turkish foreign ministry said a referendum that will be held under extraordinary conditions will be “far from reflecting people’s will.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan region was created in 1992 and gained added impetus after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

The regional government had informed the UN this year it planned to hold the referendum, even as Baghdad has indicated it opposes the move.

Other regional powers, including Iran, are also cool to the idea.

(Source: NAN)


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