Members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council vote on the referendum in Kirkuk, Iraq August 29, 2017. (Reuters)

September 2, 2017

Iran on Wednesday warned the Iraqi province of Kirkuk against taking part in next month’s Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, saying it is “wrong, provocative and unacceptable.”

The council in Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed region under Baghdad’s control, voted Tuesday to take part in the referendum, a move the Iraqi central government denounced as illegal and unconstitutional.

The plans to hold the Sept. 25 referendum have been criticized by neighboring Turkey and Iran, which have large Kurdish minority populations.

On Wednesday, Iran said “the Kirkuk council’s decision to take part in the Kurdistan region’s referendum is wrong, provocative and unacceptable.”

A statement from the Foreign Ministry described as “dangerous” the referendum it said had been rejected by the Iraqi central government, the UN, many countries in the region and beyond.

It “does not help recent dialogues in Baghdad to resolve existing issues and will affect Iraq’s national capacity and power in stabilizing that country’s victories over terrorism,” the statement quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran warns against this wrong decision which is a clear breach of Iraq’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty and stresses again that… any measure creating new crises in the region and borders of Iraq’s neighbors will be intolerable.”

Kirkuk, an oil-rich province made up of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, is under Baghdad’s control but is claimed by the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The Iraqi Kurdistan referendum is non-binding but could lead to independence.

Arab News

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.