Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Arab representatives at Kirkuk province have filed an official petition with the United Nations declaring their opposition to including the province in the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence from Iraq.
Burhan al-Assi, a member of the Arab bloc inside the province’s council, told Almaalomah website that a memo signed by Kirkuk’s Arabs had been filed to the international organization to express rejection of the referendum.
Kurdistan Region slated an advisory referendum on independence from Iraq for September 25th. The central government in Baghdad has recurrently deemed the move unconstitutional, and warned against including oil-rich Kirkuk as a voting constituency.
Kirkuk is one of the territories to which Baghdad and Erbil claim sovereignty. It is home to a mixed Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen population. Its provincial council had voted late August for taking part in the referendum.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani visited Kirkuk on Tuesday and met with representatives of its communities. He said Kurdistan was ready to fight to keep Kirkuk part of the region.
“I hope that we are not going to be forced to wage war because of Kirkuk. We do not want that to happen,” Barzani told the BBC in an interview earlier this week. “But if some people want to take Kirkuk away from Kurdistan through the use of weapons, then you will see how all the Kurds are going to be prepared for a fight for this city.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi repeated Tuesday his assertion that the referendum remained “unconstitutional”. He urged Kurdish officials to visit Baghdad again to resume a dialogue to resolve the dispute.