Kurdistan referendum: US says results of independence vote ‘lack legitimacy’

The Trump administration has said it does not recognise the independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdish region – as tensions flare between the regional government and Baghdad. 

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favour of independence in a vote earlier this week. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement “the vote and the results lack legitimacy” and that the US will “continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq”.

Mr Tillerson’s position puts him at odds with certain members of Congress, including Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer. 

“Monday’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan should be recognised and respected by the world, and the Kurdish people of northern Iraq have my utmost support,” Mr Schumer said in a statement. “I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state.”

Also this week, as people in Kurdistan cast their ballots in their referendum, Republican Representative Trent Franks introduced legislation to support the region’s right of self-determination. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration maintains that a fractured Iraq could further destabilise the region and make it more difficult to fight terrorism. 

“The fight against Isis/Daesh is not over, and extremist groups are seeking to exploit instability and discord,” Mr Tillerson said in his statement on Friday. “We urge our Iraqi partners to remain focused on defeating Isis/Daesh.” 

Massoud Barzani, the President of Iraq’s Kurdish region, is said to have warned that the Kurds may be forced to retaliate if the central government continues to aggressively respond to its referendum. 

“We want this to be a peaceful transition but if Baghdad…

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