ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The UN on Sunday stated that any unilateral decision by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hold a referendum would affect the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq.
The KRG leadership has decided to hold a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region scheduled for Sep. 25, a move which has been criticized by Baghdad and neighboring countries.
Recently, the Kurdistan Region's Parliament approved the decision to hold the vote on time and requested the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC) carry out preparations for the historic day.
In response to the Parliament’s decision, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said the unilateral move by the KRG would reduce efforts in the fight against IS.
“The Secretary-General believes that any unilateral decision to hold a referendum at this time would detract from the need to defeat ISIL, as well as the much-needed reconstruction of the regained territories and the facilitation of a safe, voluntary and dignified return of the more than three million refugees and internally displaced people,” Dujarric's statement read.
At the same time, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has repeatedly emphasized that it was the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who destroyed the myth of the IS in 2014, and that the referendum would not affect their coordination with Baghdad and on-going efforts to defeat the jihadist group.
“The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise,” the UN statement reads.
Barzani and the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi have on many occasions stated the door for negotiations and dialogue would never be closed between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve their disputes peacefully.
“The Secretary-General calls upon the leaders across Iraq to approach this matter with patience and restraint. The United Nations stands ready to support such efforts,” the statement concludes.
Baghdad has labelled the KRG’s referendum as unconstitutional and illegal. The KRG on its end has accused Baghdad of violating 55 articles in the Iraqi Constitution and cited the last part of the Constitution’s preamble which reads, “The adherence to this Constitution preserves for Iraq its free union of people, of land, and of sovereignty.”
An independent Kurdistan has been a long-awaited dream for over 40 million Kurds across the globe. They are believed to be the largest stateless nation in the world.
“The people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to democratically and peacefully decide on their future whether they want to stay as part of Iraq or secede. Self-determination is the fundamental principle of the international law,” Barzani said previously.
Editing by G.H. Renaud