ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Ministry of Peshmerga on Sunday slammed the deputy head of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis for labeling the Kurdistan Region's bid for independence as “political and electoral propaganda.”
Recently, Muhandis talked about the Kurdistan Region's upcoming referendum on independence, scheduled for Sep. 25, stating the topic has been promoted solely for electoral and political purposes, alleging separation from Iraq is not the actual objective.
Iraqi local news agencies ubiquitously reported Muhandis' comments.
“He has allowed himself to talk about the topic of Kurdistan's independence, claiming independence for the Kurdistan Region would not come true. Rather, he claims the referendum is just political and electoral propaganda,” read a statement issued by the Peshmerga Ministry's spokesperson, Halgurd Hikmat.
“In response to [these unwarranted comments], we ask this Hashd al-Shaabi military commander to focus on his duties and tasks which are clearly defined,” the statement continued. “You do not have the right to speak to a subject that is not relevant to your work.”
Senior Kurdish officials have repeatedly stressed that the referendum is not the end-goal, but a tool to be used in its negotiations with Baghdad regarding the Kurdistan Region seceding from the rest of Iraq and forming a new, independent state.
Top Kurdish officials have also affirmed there is no turning back from the decision to hold the vote, insisting the people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to decide on their future.
The Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) was formed following the orders of top Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani in late 2014 to protect Shia shrines from the threat of the Islamic State (IS) in central and southern Iraq.
The Shia armed force has repeatedly been accused of being under the direct command of Tehran as opposed to Baghdad.
Editing by G.H. Renaud