Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum 2017 could unsettle the Middle East

Inside of the Peshmerga camp at Nawaran

According to the statement, the three ministers have "confirmed their strong commitment to maintaining Iraq's political unity, territorial integrity and expressed concern about the planned referendum".

"The referendum is no longer in my hands, nor is it in those of the [political] parties - it is in your hands", Barzani told a large crowd at a football stadium.

"Once the people vote, and we presume they'll vote overwhelmingly for independence, that's going to be the destination", he said.

"Nothing is definitive yet".

Saturday's rush by Kirkuk residents to stock up came as the body responsible for organising the referendum said it would indeed go ahead on Monday.

Devlet Bahçeli, Erdoğan's political ally and leader of Turkey's ultranationalist National Movement Party (MHP), said on September 9 that the Kurdistan referendum is a "cause for war".

On the Iranian front, a commander of its elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Qassem Soleimani, held talks with Barzani in Arbil.

The council called on the KRG to cancel the referendum and search for solutions in line with Iraq's constitution.

Evidence on the ground indicates that the Kurdistan region is on track to conduct the referendum on September 25 despite all internal and external rejection.

The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad - vote on whether to secede from Iraq.




Wages, including those of Kurdish peshmerga fighters, were slashed after those transfers ended.

Barzani accused Baghdad of failing to build partnership with Kurdistan.

The referendum raises most risk of ethnic conflict in the oil city of Kirkuk, which lies outside the recognised boundaries of the Kurdish region and is claimed by Baghdad.

Barzani took advantage of the rally to push for a yes-vote for independence.

The UN Security Council has warned of the potentially destabilising impact of a planned referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The council urged "dialogue and compromise" to address differences between the Iraqi government and the regional authorities.

Iraq's Supreme Court ordered the vote to be postponed, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi threatened force if the aftermath turns violent. All Iraqis must have a say in defining the future of their homeland.

"Voting "Yes" will allow officials to remain in power", he said.

"We believe that taking into consideration the worldwide conditions. the proposal meets the strategic objectives of our people and we have informed Massud Barzani and the KDP of our position", Bakhtiar added.

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