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17 September 2017, 12:50 | Floyd Cook
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Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold a referendum on support for independence from Iraq on September 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region, and in disputed areas like Kirkuk that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad.
During a rally in Dohuk, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani reaffirmed the upcoming independence referendum would be held according to schedule on Sep. 25.
"The United States does not support the Kudistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement.
The Vice-President of Iraqi Kurdish region, Jaafar Aimenky announced the decision in Parliament at Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdish region.
"To this date, we have not received an alternative that can take the place of the referendum".
McGurk said at a news conference in Irbil that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum.
"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it warned. On Thursday, Iraq's parliament voted to remove Karim from his post, a decision he summarily dismissed.
Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.
The planned referendum has angered Turkey and Iran, which fear it could inflame separatist desires among their sizable Kurdish minorities. Mr Barzani says the referendum's "legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside".
A clear redline for Turkey is the status of Kirkuk due to its oil wealth and minority Turkmen, ethnic cousins of Turks backed by Ankara.
Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the worldwide community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters.
There are also questions over the leadership of Barzani, who was supposed to step down three years ago at the end of his two terms as president before receiving a controversial extension.
The Western allies offered an alternative plan to try to avert a conflict between the oil-rich province and the central government in Baghdad. It is also created to strengthen Barzani's position as a Kurdish nationalist leader. It is clear that the Iraqi authorities can maximally grant a broader autonomy to the Iraqi Kurds seeking independence.
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