Iraq Could Use Force If Kurdish Referendum Leads to Violence - NBC Bay Area

Iraq Could Use Force If Kurdish Referendum Leads to Violence

Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold the referendum on support for independence from Iraq on Sept. 25

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Iraq Could Use Force If Kurdish Referendum Leads to Violence
    AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed
    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

    Iraq is prepared to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region's planned independence referendum results in violence, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Saturday.

    If the Iraqi population is "threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily," he said.

    Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold the referendum on support for independence from Iraq on Sept. 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region, and in disputed areas controlled by Kurdish forces but which are claimed by Baghdad.

    "If you challenge the constitution and if you challenge the borders of Iraq and the borders of the region, this is a public invitation to the countries in the region to violate Iraqi borders as well, which is a very dangerous escalation," al-Abadi said.

    Footage From 1992 Shows Trump, Epstein at Party

    [NATL] Footage From 1992 Shows Trump, Epstein at Party

    NBC released footage in its archives from 1992 of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The video shows them laughing and pointing as they appear to talk about women at the event, NBC News reported. Trump has said he knew Epstein, but “was not a fan” and they have not spoken in 15 years.

    (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

    The leaders of Iraq's Kurdish region have said they hope the referendum will push Baghdad to come to the negotiating table and create a path for independence. However, al-Abadi said such negotiations would likely be complicated by the referendum vote.

    "It will make it harder and more difficult," he said, but added: "I will never close the door to negotiations. Negotiations are always possible."

    Iraq's Kurds have come under increasing pressure to call off the vote from regional powers and the United States, a key ally, as well as Baghdad.

    In a statement released late Friday night the White House called for the Kurdish region to call off the referendum "and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad."

    "Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing," the statement read.

    Tensions between Irbil and Baghdad have flared in the lead-up to the Sept. 25 vote.

    Congress Condemns Trump's 'Go Back' Comments

    [NATL] Congress Condemns Trump's 'Go Back' Comments
    The House of Representatives has passed a resolution that formally condemns President Donald Trump’s so-called racist comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color.
     
    (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

    Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, has repeatedly threatened violence if "any force" attempts to move into disputed territories that are now under the control of Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga, specifically the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

    "It's chaotic there," Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati, a senior leader of Iraq's mostly Shiite fighters known as the popular mobilization forces, said earlier this week, describing Kirkuk in the lead up to the vote.

    Al-Bayati's forces — sanctioned by Baghdad, but many with close ties to Iran — are deployed around Kirkuk as well as other disputed territories in Iraq's north.

    "Everyone is under pressure," he said, explaining that he feared a rogue group of fighters could trigger larger clashes. "Anything could be the spark that burns it all down."

    Al-Abadi said he is focused on legal responses to the Kurdish referendum on independence. Earlier this week Iraq's parliament rejected the referendum in a vote boycotted by Kurdish lawmakers.

    Iraq's Kurds have long held a dream of statehood. Brutally oppressed under Saddam, whose military in the 1980s killed at least 50,000 Kurds, many with chemical weapons, Iraq's Kurds established a regional government in 1992 after the U.S. enforced a no-fly zone across the north following the Gulf War.

    Sparks Fly Between Sen. Warren, Mark Esper Over Ties to Defense Contractor at Confirmation Hearing

    [NATL] Sparks Fly Between Sen. Warren, Mark Esper Over Ties to Defense Contractor at Confirmation Hearing

    During a confirmation hearing for Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Senator Elizabeth Warren said because of his ties to lobbying for defense contractor Raytheon and refusal to recuse himself, he is not fit to be Secretary of Defense.

    (Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019)

    After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam, the region secured constitutional recognition of its autonomy, but remained part of the Iraqi state.

    When asked if he would ever accept an independent Kurdistan, Al-Abadi said "it's not up to me, this is a constitutional" matter.

    "If (Iraq's Kurds) want to go along that road, they should work toward amending the constitution," al-Abadi said. "In that case we have to go all the way through parliament and a referendum to the whole Iraqi people."

    "For them to call for only the Kurds to vote," he continued, "I think this is a hostile move toward the whole of the Iraqi population."