U.S. ambassador recommends postponement of Kurdistan referendum

US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman

Baghdad ( U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, has recommended to postpone the anticipated referendum on Kurdistan Region’s independence until the defeat of Islamic State militants.

Shafaq News quoted the ambassador on Tuesday telling reporters after a meeting with a Kurdish delegation in Baghdad that Islamic State militancy still represented a threat, adding that the process could be postponed to after the elimination of that threat.

A delegation from Kurdistan Region visited Baghdad Monday to discuss the referendum slated for September 25th, which is opposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government as well as regional powers like Turkey and Iran.

Following the meeting, Abadi’s office said talks were held in a “positive atmosphere”, and that parties to the talks agreed to continue “dialogue”.

Also on Tuesday, Kurdistan’s ruling Kurdish Democratic Party said it was ready to postpone the vote provided that “guarantees” were ensured.

Almaalomah website quoted party member Naguiba Naguib saying “Kurdistan Region is ready to postpone the referendum if there are guarantees and assurances that conditions would improve”. She did not explain further but Baghdad and Erbil had longtime differences over the distribution of oil revenues and sovereignty over some Iraqi territories.

Naguib revealed that more delegations would be formed to visit the Arab League and discuss the referendum.

Since it set the schedule for the controversial poll, Erbil has stressed it was not backtracking on the plan.

Baghdad regularly argued the move was untimely as the country struggles to drive out Islamic State militants who had taken over large areas of the country since 2014.

“The federal government will not partake, support or fund the referendum on the Kurdish region’s independence from Iraq,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said in a statement last in June.

Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.


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