The Latest: US ‘deeply disappointed’ by Iraqi Kurds vote
The United States says it’s “deeply disappointed” that Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on independence Monday, calling the vote “unilateral.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the move will “increase instability and hardships” for the Kurdish region of Iraq. She says it will also complicate the ability of the regional Kurdish government to work with Iraq’s central government and neighboring countries.
Still, Nauert says the U.S. won’t alter its “historic relationship” with Iraqi Kurds because of the referendum.
Nauert also says the U.S. opposes moves by any parties to change boundaries in Iraq. She says the Islamic State group and other extremists are hoping to “exploit instability and discord.”
The vote has deeply alarmed Iraq’s government as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran. The nonbinding vote is expected to pass overwhelmingly.
The United Nations warns of the “potentially destabilizing” effects of the referendum carried out in Iraq’s Kurdish region Monday.
The statement from the organization’s secretary general released after polls closed Monday says “all outstanding issues between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise.”
The vote in a referendum on support for independence Monday has rattled the region’s relations with Baghdad and regional powers.
The vote is non-binding and not expected to result in immediate independence, but Kurdish leaders say it will open the door to negotiations with Baghdad for greater autonomy.
Turkey’s military has confirmed that Turkey and Iraq will conduct joint military drills in Turkey, along an area bordering Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
A military statement on Monday announced a new “phase” in the military exercises that were launched last week in a clear warning to Iraqi Kurds, saying units from Iraq’s armed forces would arrive in Turkey later in the evening to join Turkish troops.
The joint drills are set to kick off Tuesday, the military said, without providing details.
The Turkish military also published photographs of Iraqi troops, including one showing them holding the flags of Turkey and Iraq and posing in front of an Iraqi Air Force plane.
Iraq’s ministry of defense says it’s launching “large scale” joint military exercises with Turkey along their shared border.
The announcement Monday night followed the closing of polls in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq that both Baghdad and Ankara spoke out against.
Earlier Monday From Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened military intervention in Iraq in response to the vote, stressing that Kurdish independence was unacceptable to his country.
Polls have closed across Iraq’s Kurdish region and in disputed territories where residents cast ballots in a referendum on support for independence, according to local television broadcasts.
The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign.
The vote is widely expected to be an overwhelming “yes” in support for independence and initial official results are expected on Tuesday.
The head of the Kirkuk police department says the governor has imposed a curfew in the Iraqi city following the closing of polls in a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence.
Brig. Sarhad Qader says the curfew was imposed Monday night to “protect the civilians and the communities” in the city claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdish region.
Iraqi Kurds voted in a referendum on support for independence Monday despite calls from Baghdad and the international community to call off the vote, fearing it could lead to instability and the outbreak of violence.
Qader says the curfew will be lifted at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have spoken over the phone about the contentious Iraqi Kurdish vote in support for independence and stressed the importance of Iraq and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Erdogan’s office said after Monday’s phone call that Putin would visit Ankara on Thursday to discuss developments in the region, including the Kurdish referendum. There was no immediate confirmation from Moscow.
Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population of its own and is fighting insurgents on its territory, strongly opposes any moves toward the creation of a separate Kurdish state.
Erdogan earlier in the day threatened the Iraqi Kurds with military action as well as sanctions, including cutting the Iraqi Kurdish region’s oil exports.
An Iraqi lawmaker says the country’s parliament has approved several tough measures in response to the Iraqi Kurds’ contentious vote on support for independence from Baghdad.
Shiite lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili says the measures will force Baghdad to act to “protect Iraq’s unity and to deploy troops in all areas” where they were before the 2014 blitz by the Islamic State group.
Al-Zamili says measures approved on Monday also call for closing all border crossings with the Kurdish region.
He says the parliament considers the Kurdish referendum unconstitutional and calls for taking legal measures against all Kurdish officials and employees who took part in the vote.
The referendum on independence is non-binding, but it has strained tensions with Baghdad and regional powers. The United States has strongly opposed the move, saying it could destabilize the region.
Syria’s foreign minister says his country doesn’t recognize the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on support for independence from Baghdad, saying Damascus rejects any measure that could break up neighboring Iraq.
The Syrian state news agency SANA says Walid al-Moallem spoke on Sunday in New York. Syria’s has a large Kurdish minority that last week had its own vote as part of a move toward a federal system within Syria.
Syria, like Turkey and Iran, opposes the vote in Iraq, fearing that Kurdish communities within Syria might eventually do the same.