Iraqi Kurdish referendum: Barzani says 'too late' to postpone vote

Iraqi Kurdish referendum: Barzani says 'too late' to postpone vote

Meanwhile, Iraq's Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has delayed a scheduled news conference on the controversial independence referendum till Sunday, as worldwide pressure mounts for its postponement.

Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Ankara will consider imposing sanctions on Kurdistan over the referendum, and the United States has urged Kurdish leaders to call off the vote, fearing it it could fuel regional unrest and distract attention from campaigns to rout Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey with Iran and Russian Federation agreed this month "to allocate" their forces to patrol the zone covering rebel-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria and parts of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions to ease the six-year conflict.

Parliament's decision in an extraordinary session came after northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) refused to cancel its plans for an independence referendum, set for next Monday, Sept. 25. Baghdad isn't alone in discouraging the Kurds from holding elections.

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

Barzani told the crowd they would look the proposal over, but if their "objective is to just delay the referendum, the referendum will not be postponed".

Iraq's central government previously threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.

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"For independence we must pay any price needed because we prefer freedom over subordination or oppression", Barzani told a rally on Friday in Erbil, adding that Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had earned the right to self-determination by battling Islamic State.

Any conflict around Kurdish northern Iraq could have ramifications across the Middle East, not least in Syria, Turkey and Iran. The United States, the United Nations, Turkey and Iran have all denounced it.

The two men discussed the referendum and stressed the importance of maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, the military said, referring to the vote as "illegitimate".

Of course it is a referendum and not any constitutional amendment and involves around 4 million Kurds in Iraq to express their opinion on whether they would like to join the independent Kurd state.

Internally displaced people from the disputed territories will be allowed to vote.

"If they start shooting at us, we will start shooting at them as well", he continues, showing how easily both sides could be triggered towards a violent scenario.

The turkologist reminded that irrespective of the referendum outcome and worldwide recognition of the vote results, the Iraqi Kurdistan positions itself as a self-sustainable country with authorities, army and special services.

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