ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A senior Iraqi Shia leader on Monday claimed Israel supports the Kurdistan Region holding a referendum on independence "to divide Iraq," alleging it will lead to the "disintegration" of other countries in the Middle East.
Recently, Ammar Hakim, the head of the Iraqi National Alliance met with Iranian Parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani.
In the meeting, they urged against the Kurdistan Region's referendum, scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017.
“Iraq plays a major role in the region, and this country should not be divided because it will only benefit the Zionists, and this must be prevented, and people are aware of this issue,” Larijani stated, quoted in a statement released by the Iranian Parliament's office.
The statement mentioned that Hakim emphasized the importance of a unified Iraq, saying its "disintegration" would work against its best interests.
"Thus, all components of Iraq, including the Kurds should unite under one flag."
He also stated that the referendum would not only divide Iraq but would instead trigger the fragmentation of countries in the region.
The Shia leader asserted Israel has "always sought for a strong grip on the Middle East," suggesting it would aim to do so by dividing Iraq through the Kurdish referendum.
Many officials in Iraq and the region have repeatedly declared Iraq, in reality, is already split into three zones: Shia in the south, Sunni in the middle and west, and Kurds in the north.
Relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq have been tense, save for their cooperation on the military front in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in the north.
The Kurds have repeatedly accused Baghdad of violating the constitution and cutting the federal budget of the Kurdistan Region, accusing Baghdad of treating the people of the Kurdistan Region as the "second-class citizen."
“The international community must hear what the people of the Kurdistan Region wants,” the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has said, insisting on moving forward with the independence referendum scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017.
While some countries officially maintain they support a unified Iraq, Israel has publicly expressed support for the creation of a Kurdish state in the region.
Kurdish officials have repeatedly questioned detracting countries why other nations are permitted to enjoy their right to an independent state while such a right is denied to Kurds.
Editing by G.H. Renaud