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Turkey says northern Iraqi referendum an issue of national security

Turkey says northern Iraqi referendum an issue of national security

Posted: Sep. 14, 2017 7:00 am Updated: Sep. The Islamic State group, through its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility.

The parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region convened for the first time in two years yesterday to vote on a plan to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas that the vote is planned to take in.

Iraqi parliamentarians have rejected the legitimacy of the vote and the central government in Baghdad, which is strongly opposed to the move, has said it will do everything possible to keep the unity of the country intact. "It would be the biggest injustice", the prime minister noted.

"The parliament decision. doesn't mean anything to Kirkuk and its governor who is still in office", said the statement.

"We've been waiting more than 100 years for this", Omed Khoshnaw, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDR) of KRG President Massoud Barzani, told Reuters.

"We still haven't heard a proposal that can be an alternative to the Kurdistan referendum", Barzani told a rally in the Kurdish region, referring to a proposal put forward by the United States and other Western envoys this week. While providing no details on the alternative, he said he has presented it to Kurdish leaders.

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Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.

In late 1980s, forces of Iraq's then autocrat Saddam Hussein unleashed several attacks on Kurdish areas, including with chemical weapons.

The Iraqi Kurds fought an on-and-off insurgency for decades against the central government until the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 enshrined Kurdish autonomy in the Iraqi constitution. It has its own parliament and armed forces, flies its own flag, and has been a close US ally against IS and other militant groups.

Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the global community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters. That was followed by two suicide bombers, including one driving an explosives-laden vehicle, he added.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said later in a statement it condemned the attack.

The vote came despite intense lobbying from the United States to postpone the referendum over concerns it could distract from the fight against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) and fuel conflict between the Kurds and Baghdad.

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