US firmly opposes Kurdish independence referendum: official

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Iraqi Kurds call for independence. File photo

ARA News

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the international anti-ISIS coalition, said that the United States government is firmly opposed to the Kurdish independence referendum planned for 25th September in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

”We do not believe this referendum is a good idea. It is ill-timed. It is not well-prepared, I mentioned Hawija alone where critical engagements against ISIS still have to take place with full cooperation from the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces, and it could have potentially catastrophic consequences,” McGurk said.

“So obviously, we’re in very detailed discussions with the Iraqi leaders over this, and that’s one reason Secretary Tillerson made a couple of important calls over the last couple days,” he said in a briefing on Friday.

Look, we’re focused right now on this referendum that Kurdish authorities have said they want to hold on September 25th. It’s something the U.S. Government is – firmly, firmly opposes,” he stated.

Moreover, McGurk stated that the US supports a ‘unified Iraq’.

“We support the Government of Iraq. We support a unified federal – a unified federal Iraq that is strong and that is prosperous and that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors,” he said.

“So obviously, we have deep relations in the Kurdistan Region – in Erbil, in Sulaymaniyah, with all the Kurdish parties – and I think that is something that goes back many, many decades and is something that will continue. But we’ll also continue working, of course, through the Government of Iraq, within the Iraqi constitutional system, to support a unified and federal Iraq,” the US official concluded.

However, Kurdish officials say the referendum will not impact the fight against ISIS. “We believe in the fight against terrorism, and we keep doing that,” Hemin Hawrami, a senior advisor to the Kurdish president Masoud Barzani told ARA News.

“The Kurdistan Referendum has nothing to do with our firm commitment in our joint operations against ISIS. An independent Kurdistan is stronger ally,” Hawrami said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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