ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish official on Saturday said despite the United States’ objections against the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum, the Kurds will still hold the vote.
High-ranking officials in the Kurdistan Region agreed to hold a referendum on independence on Sep. 25, 2017.
Hoshyar Zebari, a former Iraqi Foreign and Finance Minister, discussed the recent phone call between President Masoud Barzani and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“The date is standing, Sep. 25, no change,” Zebari told Reuters, regarding Tillerson’s request to postpone the referendum.
Washington and other nations are concerned the vote could create tension with Baghdad and other neighboring countries in the region.
Turkey, Iran, and Syria—who all have sizeable Kurdish populations—are against the vote and an independent Kurdistan.
Moreover, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) issued a statement on Friday after Tillerson’s call with President Barzani.
“On the issue of the postponement of the referendum, President [Barzani] stated that the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future,” the report read.
According to the US State Department in June, Kurdistan’s independence referendum would distract from “more urgent priorities,” such as the war with the Islamic State (IS).
The Kurds have long dreamed of an independent state since the Middle East was divided by colonial powers at the end of World War One.
“We have to rectify the history of mistreatment of our people,” President Barzani told Reuters in July.
“[For] those who are saying that independence is not good, our question to them is, ‘if it’s not good for us, why is it good for you?’” He asked.
Kurdish officials have also underlined disputed areas, such as Kirkuk, will be included in the referendum to determine whether its people want to leave Iraq and join Kurdistan.