Iraq’s Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, slated for Sept. 25, until it makes a final ruling on the case, Al Jazeera reported on Monday.
“The referendum will be held on Sept. 25,” Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechervan Barzani said on Monday in response to the decision of the top court, CNN Türk reported.
According to Rudaw, the court made the ruling after two members of the Iraqi parliament from the Turkmen Front asked the court to look into the legality of the Kurdish referendum, especially in Kurdistan and disputed areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
Baghdad and Ankara have been strongly opposing the independence referendum in the KRG.
“You ask for help during your difficult times and get all sorts of support, but when it comes to dividing Iraq you go your own way,” Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday, criticizing KRG President Massoud Barzani for a contradiction in his relations with Turkey.
Erdoğan said Turkey has a similar perspective to Baghdad about the referendum. “We will hold a meeting with Mr. [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi. As far as we can see, we have a similar perspective. What is that perspective? The unity of Iraq,” added Erdoğan.
Commenting also on the referendum Erdoğan said on Friday night that Barzani would better understand Turkey’s position after a National Security Council (MGK) meeting that has been rescheduled for Sept. 22 due to the Kurdistan referendum.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım asked Barzani to change his decision to hold a referendum before it is too late, the Karar daily reported.
Underlining that Turkey had warned the KRG about holding an independence referendum, which is also opposed by the Iraqi central government, Iran, the US and Britain, Yıldırım said: “We are asking Barzani nicely. Stop this wrong decision while there is still time.”
Referring to the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Yıldırım argued that the referendum would create more problems for Kurds in the region.
“Turkey is against any step that will change the territorial integrity of Iraq and the federal nature of Iraq’s constitution. … We would not like to reach the stage of imposing sanctions, yet if there is an eclipse of reason, the steps Turkey will take are obvious. “
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who paid a visit to Baghdad and Arbil on Aug. 23, called on the KRG on Aug. 16 to review its decision, warning that it could trigger a civil war in Iraq.
Turkey’s MGK at a meeting on July 17 stated that “the KRG’s referendum decision will not be able to be put into practice either de jure or de facto.”
Chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on Aug. 24 said an independence referendum in northern Iraq must be seen as a reason for war for Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) issued a press release on Monday saying that the military had started conducting drills in the Silopi/Habur region on the Turkish-Iraqi border, which is seen as a warning to KRG President Barzani to deter him from holding a referendum on independence. (SCF with turkishminute.com)