Arab League Chief Calls for Dialogue Ahead Of Kurdish Referendum

Arab League Chief Calls for Dialogue Ahead Of Kurdish Referendum

Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Tuesday (September 12) for dialogue between Iraq's Kurdish factions and the Iraqi government ahead of the Kurdish independence referendum.

Aboul Gheit delivered the comments during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, including Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari, at the League's headquarters in Cairo.

Jaafari said it was important to adhere to the Iraqi constitution and Kurdish separation could have serious repercussions for other countries in the Arab region.

Iraq's parliament voted on Tuesday to reject a referendum on Kurdish independence planned for September 25, authorizing the prime minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraq's unity, lawmakers said.

A member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc in the Iraqi parliament, Mohammed Othman, told NRT the Kurdistan Region’s referendum was put in the parliament’s session on the request of 80 lawmakers.

The decision to reject the referendum was made without taking views of the Kurdish lawmakers, Othman added.

He further said Kurdish lawmakers left the session after the other members of the Iraqi parliament did not listen to the Kurdish MPs, who called for a committee to tackle the issue.

Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East and left Kurdish-populated territory split between modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.