nsnbc : French President Emmanuel Macron has offered to mediate between Baghdad and Erbil following Kurdistan’s independence referendum. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is visiting Paris on the invitation of Macron.

Macron, at a joint press conference with al-Abadi, expressed his support for Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity. He said, however, that France and others are concerned about the situation in Kurdistan after the referendum, and stressed that dialogue is “the only path” going forward. “France is ready… to contribute actively to mediation,” he said. France has historically close relations with Kurdistan and maintains “close ties” with Kurds, Macron said.

On September 25 the Kurdistan Regional Government in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region held a referendum on the region’s independence from Iraq. Voter turnout was reportedly high, and an overwhelming majority reportedly voted yes for independence – however, nsnbc international contacted the High Election and Referendum Commission for detailed “official results”, including a breakdown of the vote according to cities.

The Commission did not provide such date or even respond. The detailed official date would have been and are critical in as much as the regional government also decided to hold the referendum in Kirkuk and other cities and areas that do not officially belong to the KAR and /or regions that are disputed. nsnbc international would have found it “normal” to receive the official and detailed results and can currently, as a newspaper, neither confirm or challenge the accuracy of the “overwhelming – 90+% and other statements”.

Baghdad has rejected the result and demanded Kurdistan nullify the vote as a pre-condition for talks, something the Kurdish leadership has refused to do. The central Iraqi government has imposed and threatened a number of punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region in the wake of the vote, including closing airports to international flights, taking steps to exert control over Kurdistan’s oil revenues, and ordering the deployment of troops to disputed areas. Speaking in Paris, Abadi said he does not want conflict with Kurds. “We don’t want armed confrontation,” he said, qualifying that “federal authority must prevail.” Macron and Abadi also discussed the war with ISIS and rebuilding Iraq’s economy.

CH/L – nsnbc 05.10.2017



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