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Ankara backs Iraqi parliament's rejection of Kurdish referendum

15 September 2017

Iraq's parliament has voted to remove the governor of Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk from office, according to legislators present at the vote.

Kareem, a Kurd, has made several controversial decisions in Kirkuk, including raising the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk city and supporting the independence referendum of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders must be prepared to face the consequences if they unilaterally declare independence and find implementation more hard than they expected, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Wednesday.

"It is easy to declare whatever you want but it is not so easy to realize it", Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told Reuters on September 13 on the sidelines of an Arab League summit in Cairo, where the closing statement included a resolution calling the Kurdish referendum plan. The Turkish government, which has recently restored diplomatic ties with Israel following years of estrangement, "is concerned that sovereignty for Iraqi Kurds would encourage its own Kurdish insurgents", says the news agency, while the USA believes a Kurdish vote "could destabilize the region and undercut the war on extremism". Kalin said there was no other country, or global organisation "other than Israel" that backed the referendum bid.

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It said parliament's decision was a "clear expression of the importance that was attached on Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity".

The Kurds are spread across the region, with large populations in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. He explained that the law for the Iraqi provincial election passed in 2008 stipulated that Kirkuk, unlike the rest of the Iraqi provinces, would not come under the authority of the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East after the collapse of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire.

Ankara backs Iraqi parliament's rejection of Kurdish referendum