Published: 2017-09-23 14:22
Last Updated: 2017-09-23 16:28
President of Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan has vowed to continue with the independence referendum, set for next week, despite intense opposition from regional and international powers.
The Kurdistan Regional Government plans to host a non-binding referendum on Kurdish independence on September 25th, in the three governorates which make up Iraqi Kurdistan, disputed areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, and parts of the norther province of Nineveh.
"[The] Referendum is no longer in our hands or political parties, it is in the hands of people," stated KRG head Masoud Barzani to thousands of cheering protestors in Erbil.
Baghdad is strongly against the vote, as are Turkey, Iran and Syria fearful of strengthening Kurdish secessionist movements amongs their Kurdish minorities.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan warned that Ankara will impose sanctions on Kurdistan, should it move forward with the referendum, echoed by the United States which strongly urged Kurdish leaders to call off the vote, fearing it will increase regional instability and distract from the fight against Daesh.
"It is strongly emphasised that this attempt [Kurdish referendum] is a grave mistake which directly threatens the security of Turkey and the peace, security and stability of the region as well as Iraq's territorial unity and territorial integrity," Turkey's National Security Council said in a statement.
Meanwhile, protests in Niveneh are taking places against hosting the referendum.