Diplomatic pressure grows to stop Kurdish independence vote

Iraqi President cancels US trip to address Kurdistan referendum concerns

Despite forging strong ties with the KRG in northern Iraq in recent years, Turkey fears the vote could stoke separatist aspirations among its own sizeable Kurdish minority.

Iraq's Supreme Court has ordered the planned Kurdish independence referendum to be suspended as Iraqi prime minister on Monday formally demanded a halt, stating seccession would be "unconstitutional".

Ankara has once again stressed that it will not allow any fait accompli in northern Iraq and will take all necessary measures against the independence referendum to be held by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on September 25.

The president of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, said once again late Monday that he would proceed with the referendum despite warnings at home and overseas.

Luaibi visited Tehran in July, and according to his Iranian counterpart, Bijan Zanganeh, the two countries concluded agreements to construct pipelines to export crude oil from the hotly disputed, oil-rich province of Kirkuk to Iran.

The referendum is a "matter of national security for our country", Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last week.

The Turkmen leaders urged the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq to realize that it is doing wrong.

There was no immediate reaction from Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, who called the referendum and has so far resisted pressure from Baghdad and Iraq's neighbours Turkey and Iran, as well as from the United States and its Western allies, all of which oppose the poll.

Turkey, which has always been fighting its own Kurdish separatists, carried out military exercises at the Iraqi border and amassed dozens of tanks on its southern frontier.

To remind, Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.

Cross-border trade, however, appeared to continue.

At the same time, the Kurdistan Region is moving forward with its historic referendum on independence scheduled for Sep. 25.

However, hours after the parliamentary decision Najmadin Karim vowed that he would stay in office and the referendum would go ahead as planned.

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