State News Today
Iraqi Kurds by an overwhelming margin approved a referendum for independence, shrugging off warnings from the UN, U.S. and Turkey.
Initial results showed more than 90 percent of Kurds voted “yes” on the independence referendum.
“There is no precedent in diplomatic history for the whole world closing ranks against the aspirations of a small people, let alone one that has governed itself admirably amidst regional chaos for the past generation,” David P. Goldman wrote in an analysis for Asia Times.
Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, declared victory before the official results were in.
“We may face hardship but we will overcome,” Barzani said, urging the Iraqi government and foreign powers “to respect the will of millions of people.”
Last week, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to warn of “potentially destabilizing effects” of the referendum.
The White House said on Sept. 15 that “the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat [the Islamic State] and stabilize the liberated areas.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that “If [Massoud] Barzani and the Kurdish Regional Government do not go back on this mistake as soon as possible, they will go down in history with the shame of having dragged the region into an ethnic and sectarian war.”
Erdogan called the vote “treason to our country” and he urged Barzani to “give up on an adventure which can only have a dark end.”
Erdogan said would consider all options from economic sanctions to military measures in response to the vote.
“All options are on the table right now and being discussed,” he said. “You [the KRG] will be stuck from the moment we start implementing the sanctions.”
Iraqi Kurdistan is home to some 3 million people in northern Iraq.
Iraq’s government has repeatedly rejected Barzani’s call for negotiations following the referendum.