Turkey, Iran, Iraq consider counter-measures over Kurdish referendum

Kurdish girls hold posters showing Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani

A joint declaration opposing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) independence referendum in northern Iraq has been issued following a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said Tuesday the vote is being driven by a sick mentality and warned it threatened to spark regional chaos.

Despite the opposition of Iraq and many other countries to holding a referendum on Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, the autonomous territory's president, Massoud Barzani told the British defense secretary that they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, sealed with worldwide guarantees that agreements will be enforced. His comments came hours after Turkish military leaders released images of their forces conducting large-scale military drills along one of the major commercial border crossings between Turkey and northern Iraq.

Ankara's national security council will meet on September 22 to discuss the country's official position on the referendum, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said it was a "mistake".

Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's prime minister, said that Iraq is prepared to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region's referendum entails violence. "Negotiations are always possible".

The Kurds do enjoy the support - at least rhetorically - of one of the most powerful external actors with a foothold in Iraqi Kurdistan: the United States.

Riyadh said it was relying on the wisdom of Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani to abandon the referendum and "spare Iraq and the region further threats that may ensue".

In a surprising move, on June 7, Barzani declared that a referendum on Kurdistan independence would be held on September 25.

Borders and military forces would remain in their current positions, and Baghdad would authorize Kurdistan to continue exporting the oil that it now ships through Turkey in breach of the federal constitution.

The prime minister pointed to the global concerns over the consequences of the vote, saying, "The world is anxious, today".

Hours later, a police patrol that included the brother of the slain assailant attacked another office, triggering clashes, Mr Kanaan said. "Anything could be the spark that burns it all down".

The US has long rejected the idea of an independent Kurdistan, and Iraq's parliament has similarly forbidden the vote, though the KRG has indicated the vote will go on.

"Moscow has been effectively filling the gap as the United States has been pulling back from Iraq", a senior source in Erbil told Reuters.

The Kurdistan Regional Government had paid millions to Washington lobbying firms with deep connections to both Democrats and Republicans, including more than $1.5 million over the last three years, according to Justice Department records. Al-Monitor said the officers had been taken to a PKK base in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq.

Considering the fact that conflicting regions like Kirkuk will take part in the referendum, how will non-Kurdish movements and residents like Turkmens take this referendum, will they accept its results?

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