ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, on Tuesday stated that he would not compromise on Iraq’s unity and sovereignty, calling for control over the Kurdistan Region to be handed over.
On Monday, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region held a landmark referendum on independence, a move opposed by Baghdad, neighboring countries, and the international community.
In a series of tweets, the Iraqi PM expressed his strong opposition to the referendum, threatening he would take measures against it.
“We will not compromise on Iraq’s unity or sovereignty. Iraq is strong. Some wanted to weaken it. They have miscalculated,” Abadi tweeted on his official account on Tuesday.
“We have taken measures to impose federal authority according to the Iraqi constitution,” he stated in another tweet.
Kurdish officials have accused Baghdad of violating 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution and treating the people of the Kurdistan Region as second-class citizens. In response, they declared they would follow the path toward independence after failing to reach a true partnership with Baghdad.
In another tweet, Abadi called on the KRG to hand over oil revenue, airports, and border-crossings to Baghdad.
“Oil revenues in Iraqi Kurdistan must be returned to the control of the federal authorities,” he added. “All land & air border-crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan must be returned to federal jurisdiction within [three] days.”
He went further and noted that Baghdad would suspend all international flights in the Kurdistan Region.
“Iraq will suspend international flights to [and] from the Kurdistan region if this order is not implemented,” Iraqi Premier added.
“We will protect the rights of all Iraqis including our Kurdish citizens; we will not punish them for the mistakes of regional officials,” Abadi tweeted.
In a victory speech on Tuesday, President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani urged Baghdad and neighboring countries to engage in peaceful dialogue and negotiations to resolve regional issues.
“I ask Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and anyone who believes in peace and dialogue to start serious negotiations,” Barzani said.
He mentioned that the vote was not a crime but was a peaceful and democratic process enshrined in every international charter.
Barzani added threats of punishment from Iraq would not be harder to handle than the genocide committed in the past against the people of the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish President has repeatedly criticized Baghdad, asserting it has a “sectarian and theocratic” government which “does not believe in equal partnership, but rather passes all resolutions by imposing them” on the Parliament.
An independent state of Kurdistan has been the long-awaited aspiration of over 40 million stateless Kurds around the world.
Editing by G.H. Renaud