Iran should not ‘meddle’ in Kurdistan Region independence referendum

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with KRG President Massoud Barzani during a meeting in 2014.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) has asked Iran to stop “meddling” in discussions regarding an independence referendum for the region in northern Iraq.

In a statement on Tuesday the DFR said the Kurdish right to self-determination was a natural right and that the Kurdish nation had “sacrificed a lot for it.”

“We reject any remarks on this question, and therefore, reiterate that we do not allow meddling from any party,” it added.

The spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Bahram Qasimi, at a press conference on Monday, had said Kurds should protect the unity of Iraq.

“The Kurds are an important part of Iraq and have rights within the framework of the unity of this country, but they should not stand against the oneness of the Iraqi land, oppose or reject it.”

The DFR statement concluded saying the matter was internal and going to be discussed with the Iraqi government through “understanding and dialogue.”

Commentators have said Tehran fears that the KRG’s secession from Baghdad will strengthen the desire for national rights in Kurdish areas in the west of Iran, which have a population of some seven million people.

Ankara and Baghdad have also warned against holding the referendum.

Some critics have accused Kurdish parties, primarily the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), for employing the independence referendum to consolidate nationalist support and deflect criticism of bad governance.