White House: Kurdish Independence Referendum 'Distracting' from ISIS Fight

Kurdish men march in support of the independence referendum carrying

Kurdish men march in support of the independence referendum carrying

Iraqi parliamentarians on Tuesday voted to reject the nonbinding referendum planned to be held on September 25, authorizing the Iraqi prime minister to take all measures necessary to preserve Iraq's unity.

Jowhar said the session was chaired by the Deputy Speaker, as Speaker Yousif Mohammed Sadiq did not attend the session since his Gorran Movement is boycotting the session along with the Kurdistan Islamic Group, Xinhua news agency reported.

In Iraq, lawmakers of Kurdish region have approved holding an independence referendum on 25th of this month in the region.

This week, top United States envoy Brett McGurk was again in Arbil and attempted to persuade the Kurdish leader to call off the highly-charged popular vote in exchange for a new diplomatic initiative.

Iraq's central government has rejected the polls as unconstitutional and illegal.

Neighbouring Turkey and Iran fear the referendum could stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.

Hours after the decision, the White House publicly called for the first time on the KRG to cancel the referendum, warning that the vote was "distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS (Islamic State) and stabilise the liberated areas".

"So far, we haven't seen an alternative that can take the place of the referendum". It is also concerned that the scheduled referendum comprises disputed areas such has Kirkuk, which is home to Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds and Christians. Irbil and Baghdad have always been in disagreement over oil revenues and contracts the Kurdistan region has signed with oil companies.

U.S. officials, however, remain insistent: "There is no chance that this referendum, which will be held on September 25, will be given global legitimacy ..."

The Iraqi Kurds fought an on-and-off insurgency for decades against the central government until the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 enshrined Kurdish autonomy in the Iraqi constitution.

Moves toward independence are strongly opposed by Baghdad.

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