By Sefa Mutlu
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Sunday discussed the Kurdish region independence referendum set to be held tomorrow in northern Iraq.
In a phone conversation, the two leaders emphasized that not canceling the referendum would sow chaos in the region and stressed the importance of Iraq’s territorial integrity, Turkish presidential sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking with the media.
The sources added that during the conversation Erdogan's planned Oct. 3 visit to Iran was also mentioned.
Monday’s non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad -- vote whether to secede from Iraq.
Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the U.S., 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 win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.