KRG endangering political, economic interests of their own people, writes president’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin

Iraqi Kurds have run the risk of isolating themselves by holding referendum in northern Iraq, Turkey’s presidential spokesman wrote on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Kalin, a top aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed his views in a column penned for Turkey's Daily Sabah newspaper.

"The Kurdish leadership in Irbil is endangering the political and economic interests of their own people by going for the breaking of Iraq and alienating themselves from their closest ally Turkey," he wrote.

According to Kalin, the decision to hold referendum "has already triggered a major crisis across the region and the globe."

"More tremors are expected in the coming days," he wrote, and warned: "There will be serious consequences and they will be felt at various levels."

On Monday, the non-binding referendum saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Irbil and Baghdad -- vote on whether or not to declare independence.

Along with Iraq’s central government, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN spoke out against the referendum, saying it would distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

On Sept. 22, Turkey's National Security Council meeting ended with a statement that the referendum is "illegal and unacceptable," Kalin recalled and added the U.S. administration as well as the United Nations, European and Gulf countries called on Irbil to cancel or postpone the referendum.

He noted that no country supports the breaking up of Iraq except Israel. 

‘Irresponsible politics'

The presidential spokesman also criticized “the sectarian approach” of two Nouri al-Maliki’s governments, which he wrote "undermined much of the hope and trust essential to keep Iraqi society together." 

"The Kurds have suffered from this irresponsible and costly politics but so have Sunni Arabs and Turkmen."

Kalin added that all the groups that form Iraqi society "have suffered at the hands of oppressive rulers..." 

He criticized the idea that every ethnic group should have its own nation-state.

"There is no end to where this may stop. With this logic, you may have dozens of new states in Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia," he wrote.

He added that "the legitimate concerns of Iraqi Kurds should be addressed within the territorial integrity and political sovereignty of Iraq."

Kalin noted that the KRG "has made many gains in spite of the chaos in which Iraq has found itself for more than a decade". 

"The KRG is already a federal unit with its own parliament, flag, security force, i.e., the peshmarga, border and customs controls and even money. No other group in Iraq has any of these privileges. The referendum now runs the risk of jeopardizing these gains."

He called on the KRG to "go back to the negotiating table with Baghdad within the territorial integrity and political sovereignty of Iraq."

"This may be a difficult choice for Irbil but it is still better than on insisting on a policy that will only make it more isolated, weaker and vulnerable."

 

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