‘Kurdistan region cannot move towards independence even if it votes in favour’ says Abadi

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq will not be able to make a move towards independence even if a vote in favour of secession were to come out of an expected September referendum.

Speaking to Rudaw on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Amman, the Iraqi PM said neighbouring countries Turkey, Iran and Syria, which also have large Kurdish populations would oppose the move.

“It is not a secret. The official stance of Turkey is that they are against the separation of the Kurdistan Region. The official stance from Iran is that they are against the separation of the Kurdistan Region. The former Syria was in the same way against the separation, Syria both as a government and regime. I imagine that generally the Arab situation does not want it, either.”

Abadi also claimed that Kurdish politicians had told him the KRG was not in a suitable position to declare independence.

“I imagine that many of the Kurdish politicians, who dare not to say it in the open, but during their talks with me, they think and say that it is a fact that the interest of Kurds requires staying within Iraq. But on one condition. And here I also repeat this condition myself that Kurds should be treated as any other Iraqi citizen is treated. It is not acceptable to discriminate. All citizens should be treated on the same level and that is as first class citizens.”

The Iraqi prime minister said he respected the right to self-determination of every nation, including Kurds, but had called on Kurdish leaders to “invest” in a newly found trust between the parties gained in the joint fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

“Separation is not in the interest of the Kurdish nation” Abadi said, adding that it would better for Kurds and Iraqis to live together.

Abadi said the number one disagreement between Baghdad and Erbil was the issue of oil revenues, which as the constitution stipulates, should be controlled by the central government, he added.

Regarding the issue of disputed areas, Kirkuk and Shingal being two where tensions are high, Abadi said joint cooperation on “agreed areas” would bring a resolution.