Tabnak – As Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has geared up to hold a referendum for independence, concerns are emerging about the possible domestic and regional consequences of such a move. After Iran and Turkey, Iraqi prime minister has also publicly declared his positions against Kurdish independence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned against Iraq's disintegration, saying a potential separation of the country’s Kurds would harm them. "That is totally objectionable. We are serious about Iraq’s territorial integrity,” Abadi said in an interview with the Iraqi Kurdistan region's Rudaw media outlet published on Saturday.
"I have asked the Kurdish leaders not to out us or themselves in an embarrassing situation,” the Iraqi prime minister said. "I don’t like prolonging the issue of referendum because the result is already obvious. But the question is whether they will act on the results or not?” he said, suggesting that such a plebiscite would assuredly lead to the region’s secession.
Abadi’s comments comes amid similar positions against the referendum have been raised during the recent days by Iraq’s neighbors, namely Iran and Turkey. On Saturday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed Tehran’s opposition to the "unilateral” plan by Iraq’s Kurdistan region to hold the referendum, stressing the importance of maintaining integrity and stability in the Arab country.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran’s principled and clear stance is supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity and coherence,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday. "The Kurdistan Region is part of the Republic of Iraq,” he underlined.
Also on Friday, Turkey warned that a decision by Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region to hold an independence referendum would be a "grave mistake." "We believe that the announcement by the (Iraqi Kurdish region) to hold an independence referendum on September 25 ... will constitute a grave mistake," the foreign ministry said in a statement, AFP reported.
However, it seems that some other countries in the region are supporting Kurdish independence, hoping that the move could provide them with more room for maneuvering throughout the region.
In this vein, an informed Kurdish official revealed on Sunday that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan have demanded the Iraqi Kurdistan officials to allow them to build military bases in the region for supporting their decision to declare independence.
"Based on this agreement, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan received promises to establish military bases in Dahouk and Erbil with the aim of confronting Iran and Turkey's influence in exchange for supporting a referendum for independence and then formation of a Kurdish state," the source said in an interview with al-Alam al-Jadid newspaper on Sunday.
It should be noted that these contrasting positions came after officials in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region announced that the northern territory will hold an independence referendum on September 25. Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), announced the vote on Twitter last Wednesday.
The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq is planned to be held in the three governorates that make up the Kurdish region and in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and Iraqi governments but are currently under Kurdish military control. The disputed areas include the key oil-rich province of Kirkuk.