ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday said Washington does not recognize the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence held on Monday.
“The vote and the results lack legitimacy, and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic, and prosperous Iraq,” Tillerson said in a statement.
On the historic day of Sep. 25, the people of Kurdistan voted on whether they wanted to remain a part of Iraq or secede as a newly-established state. Thousands of foreign and local observers monitored the vote.
The initial result announced by the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC) revealed 92.7 percent of people had voted in favor of independence.
“We remain concerned about the potential negative consequences of this unilateral step,” Tillerson stated.
“Prior to the vote, we worked with both the [Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)] and the central government in Baghdad to pursue a more productive framework and to promote stability and prosperity for the people of the Kurdistan Region,” he added.
“These aspirations, ultimately, cannot be advanced through unilateral measures such as this referendum,” the US official noted.
Baghdad, neighboring countries, and the international community have expressed their opposition toward the vote.
Tillerson said the US wanted “an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions,” and urged the “Kurdish authorities to respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government.”
“We call upon the central government [in Baghdad] to reject threats or even allusion to [the] possible use of force,” he continued. “The United States asks all parties, including Iraq’s neighbors, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force.”
The fight against the Islamic State (IS) has been one of the US’ main concerns regarding the Kurdish independence vote, stating it would affect the priority of defeating the militant group in the country.
“The fight against [IS] is not over, and extremist groups are seeking to exploit instability and discord. We urge our Iraqi partners to remain focused on defeating [IS],” Tillerson said.
The US Secretary of State also called on all parties in the country “to engage constructively in dialogue to improve the future of all Iraqis.”
The Kurdish leadership insisted on holding the referendum, stating it was a peaceful and democratic process, and the people of the Kurdistan Region had the right to decide on their future.
Following the vote, senior Kurdish officials encouraged the Federal Government of Iraq to begin negotiations and dialogue to resolve disputes and establish future relations.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany