By Ramazan Kaya
Turkey on Sunday emphasized that Monday’s planned independence referendum in northern Iraq should be cancelled outright, not merely postponed.
“We demand cancellation of the referendum so that it will not be held at a later date,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party district congress in the central Yozgat province.
Referring to Massoud Barzani, the head of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), he added, “We are telling Barzani and his administration: It is not over yet. Stop playing with fire and cancel the referendum decision.”
Bozdag also warned that the poll would cause catastrophe in the region and threaten the national security of Iraq and neighboring countries.
“It is a direct threat not only to Turkey's national security but also to the territorial integrity, political unity, sovereignty and national security of Iraq. It is also a direct threat to the national security of Iran," Bozdag said.
“So Turkey could never remain indifferent to such a development,” he added.
Blasting the vote as "illegitimate," Bozdag stressed that the whole world, with the exception of Israel, is opposed to the vote.
“A large majority of the people living under the regional government in northern Iraq are also opposed. The Turkmens are completely against it, the Arabs are against it, a significant part of the Kurds living in the region are also opposed."
Iraqi Kurds in provinces controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq are set to head to polls on Monday to vote in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq.
Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
The KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a Yes vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.