Iran’s Supreme Leader to Iraqi PM: We are against Kurdistan's independence referendum
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – During a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini said his country opposed the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum to be held on Sep. 25, 2017.
On Monday, Abadi began his tour of the Middle East, starting with Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
He flew to Iran a day later and met with both President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khomeini.
Both Iranian leaders expressed their opposition to the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum.
In the meeting with Abadi, Rouhani highlighted the importance of territorial integrity for all states in the region and condemned any measures aimed at undermining the unity and sovereignty of Iraq, deeming it “unacceptable” as he indirectly referred to the Kurdish referendum.
The Iraqi PM later met with Khomeini in Tehran, where the latter also expressed strong opposition to Kurdistan’s referendum.
“As a neighbor, the Islamic Republic of Iran is against certain murmurs about the holding of a referendum for the separation of a section of Iraq,” Iranian Press TV quoted Khomeini.
Kurdish officials have emphasized there was no turning back once the decision to hold an independence referendum was made.
The officials also stated the referendum is a democratic right, and that the people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to decide whether they want to have an independent state like any other nations in the world.
Senior Kurdish officials previously said the independence referendum was an internal matter between the Erbil and Baghdad governments, urging neighboring countries not to interfere.
During the meeting with Abadi, Khomeini warned Iraqis against the US, calling them to stay vigilant of Washington’s “divisive plots.”
The Supreme Leader claimed the US could not be trusted because it sought to harm Iraq.
“In no way can you trust the Americans because they are waiting to gain an opportunity to strike their blow,” Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted Khomeini.
He also highlighted the US' opposition to the Hashd al-Shaabi, a state-sponsored Shia militia backed by the Iranian government.
Khomeini claimed the US was attempting to marginalize Iraq from its essential element of strength, referring to the Shia force.
“The chance should not be given to them [the Americans], and also the presence of US troops in Iraq under the pretext of training Iraqi forces should be prevented,” he added.
Iran was one of the first countries to express its strong opposition to any Kurdish ambitions in Iraq regarding secession, claiming it would create further instability in the region.
Kurds are believed to be the largest stateless nation in the world, estimated at over 40 million, mostly settled in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The creation of a Kurdish state has long been a dream for most Kurds around the world.
Senior Kurdish officials in the Region have declared the referendum would only involve Kurds in Iraq, and not those in neighboring countries.
Editing by G.H. Renaud