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‘Iraq opposes Kurdish independence vote’

By Iraqi Ambassador to Korea Wadee Al Batti

The international community has rightfully acknowledged the illegitimacy of the referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan on Sept. 25 and refused its results, while at the same time expressing its due support to the unity of Iraq. The supportive countries and organizations included the United Nations Security Council, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Russia as well as regional countries and other nations the world over.

The Iraqi government hoped until the last minute for the retreat of the regional government’s unilateral and wrongful decision. The referendum violated our constitution, which represents the social contract between all Iraqi citizens and the state. The Kurdish people are part of the Iraqi citizenry and our administration is geared toward deterring the regional government of Kurdistan from fragmenting our national unity.

Of vital international importance, the referendum results critically undermine worldwide efforts to defeat the terrorist group Daesh, or Islamic State group, which poses grave threats to regional and global security.

There also appear to be clear and sharp divergences between Kurdish stakeholders regarding the referendum, as evident in statements issued by their political leaders who have expressed concerns of potential one-party hegemony in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi Ambassador to Korea Wadee Al Batti (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)
Iraqi Ambassador to Korea Wadee Al Batti (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)

All oil fields in northern Iraq, including those in Kurdistan, are part of our national wealth, and the federal authority has the full right to exploit them and subsume its revenues under the government budget. The Kirkuk governorate is an undivided part of the Iraqi territory and regional Kurdistan has no right to annex it by force or impose upon it a policy of fait accompli. The Iraqi government rejects any military mobilization in the city of Kirkuk and calls for responsible administration of the disputed regions under the auspices of the central government.

The Iraqi federal government has the legitimate right to control airports in Iraq Kurdistan, place all borders under the federal control and close all nonofficial borders. Oil exports, foreign trade and investment, international banking and diplomatic and consulate representations are all subject to federal governance.

Kurds are welcome participants in our national governance, as they have occupied positions of influence in the national parliament, cabinet and other levers of power in representations proportionate to their population. Such facts render the allegation of political marginalization invalid.

Fundamentally, the creation of an ethnicity-based state, a relic of the past, cannot be internationally legitimized and goes against the current of global cooperation based on sovereign nationhood.

Iraq, faithfully adhering to all international laws and responsibilities, stands firmly to assert its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and continues its support for its people and security forces, who are in the last gasps of a battle against Daesh to save the entire world from terrorism.

*** The above article has been edited for clarification from its original wording. -- Ed.***