A senior Iranian official warns that any “illegal” separatist move in Iraq would escalate insecurity in the country and across the region, saying that the Islamic Republic only recognizes an integrated and federal Iraqi government.
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani made the remarks on Sunday while expressing the Islamic Republic’s opposition to a planned referendum on the independence of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, saying the plan would fail to safeguard the region’s interests.
He added that the referendum would lead to the emergence of new threats against the Kurdistan region and make the situation a lot more complicated.
At a time when Iraq is nearing the final phase of its fight to fully eliminate Takfiri terrorists thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the country’s people, including the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen people, such illegal measures will undoubtedly have negative impacts on the security of the country, particularly the Kurdistan region, and the entire region, he pointed out.
Shamkhani said Iran’s stance on the importance of maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity and unity was “unchangeable,” adding, “Any damage to this strategic principle would lead to the revision of and serious alteration in the existing cooperation between Iran and Iraq’s Kurdistan region.”
He emphasized that the legitimacy of Iran’s border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan region hinged upon the fact that the Kurdish areas were part of an undivided Iraq, adding that the Islamic Republic would shut all border crossings and terminate military and security agreements if the semi-autonomous region secedes from Iraq.
The plebiscite on the independence of Iraq’s Kurdish region is scheduled to be held on September 25 to gauge support for the possible secession of Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
The Iraqi parliament voted on September 12 to reject a Kurdish independence referendum, requiring Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the central government in Baghdad to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue” with Kurdish leaders.
On Friday, Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers approved holding of the secession vote in the face of fierce opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the United Nations and the US.
Regional powers like Iran and Turkey have repeatedly expressed concerns about the planned referendum by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), arguing that it could create further instability in the region.
The Iraqi prime minister said Kurdish authorities were “playing with fire” by planning to hold the independence referendum.
Abadi described the upcoming Kurdish independence vote as “unconstitutional” and “illegal,” noting that Baghdad would resort to all legal processes it has at its disposal in response to the referendum.