Iraqi Kurds to go ahead with independence vote despite threats

Main opposition CHP says gov't should be 'cool-headed' on KRG referendum

"The referendum "harms Iraq and harms our Kurdish brothers", Ayman Soussan added in the comments published on Monday".

Earlier Sunday, the Kurdish region's president Masoud Barzani pledged the vote would be held despite pressure from Baghdad and the global community.

Initial results are expected to be announced 24 hours after the vote.

For Iraqi Kurds - part of the largest ethnic group left stateless when the Ottoman empire collapsed a century ago - the referendum offered a historic opportunity despite intense worldwide pressure to call it off.

Ahead of the referendum, we spoke to young Kurds in Erbil, their region's capital city, about how they were voting.

Children holding Kurdish flags run on the streets of the disputed city of Kirkuk, Monday Sept. 25, 2017. Most emerged smiling, holding up ink-marked fingers.

Kurds showed off their ink-stained fingers as they left polling stations on September 25, showing they had voted. "The Turkmen and the Arabs are basically boycotting this vote". Kurdish officials say no such coercion happened. The Kurds form a sizeable minority in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

Erdogan said: "Our military is not (at the border) for nothing".

Erdogan said: "Let's see where - and through which channels - will they sell their oil. The moment we shut the valve, that's the end of it", Erdogan said.

Iraqi Kurds were preparing to vote in a referendum set for Monday on independence for their autonomous northern region, despite warnings within the country and from neighbours Iran and Turkey.


Turkey later took the Rudaw TV channel off its satellite service TurkSat, a Turkish broadcasting official told Reuters.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has warned of the "potentially destabilising" effects of the referendum.

Hundreds of worldwide media outlets and observers have registered to oversee the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum process that concludes with local voting on Monday. These areas also have large non-Kurdish populations.

Under Iraq's constitution, the government is obliged to comply with the parliamentary vote.

Ankara's forces are again fighting a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey following the collapse of a peace process.

Also on Sunday, Iran closed its airspace to all flights to and from the Kurdish region at the request of the Iraqi government.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, said Iran regarded the referendum as "treason" against the Iraqi Kurds.

"We will seize our independence through the polls", he said. "If the "Yes" vote wins, we will resolve our issues with Baghdad peacefully".

The conflict has been largely peaceful until now, but in recent days both sides have threatened to use military force to protect their interests. "They have to register first and then vote", he said.

However, KRG President Masoud Barzani defended the non-binding vote, saying only through the referendum can Kurds secure their future.

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