BAGHDAD, Iraq (Kurdistan 24) – The Foreign Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, on Monday declared Baghdad cannot stop anyone from taking part in the Kurdistan Region's referendum on independence scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017.
Jaafari’s comments come as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) insists on holding the vote despite Baghdad's objection, as well as that of certain neighboring countries.
“I believe the time is not right to hold a referendum on the independence of Kurdistan,” Jaafari told Kurdistan 24's Awat Khairullah, reporting from Iraq's Parliament in Baghdad.
Jaafari did not dispute the issue is an “internal Iraqi affair,” but noted that Baghdad would not "stand in the way of those wanting to participate in the referendum and vote.”
A KRG delegation has announced it plans to visit Baghdad and regional partners to official negotiate and discuss the people of the Kurdistan Region's right to self-determination.
Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi has previously asserted the referendum was “unconstitutional” and Baghdad would not get involved with the voting process.
Kurds have been seeking an independent state since the end of World war I, as colonial powers divided up the Middle East, but witnessed their territory become broken into what is modern-day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.
Editing by G.H. Renaud
(Awat Khairullah conducted the interview from Baghdad)