210 Iranian MPs have branded the referendum on independence in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, KRG, as “illegal” and “conspiracy”.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, September 27, the legislators said “Taking into account the Iraqi government’s position that categorically rejects the KRG’s referendum as illegal, as well as taking into account the U.N.’s position on the case, we, the members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, firstly believe that creating crisis in Iraq is detrimental to its democratic path and, secondly, any secessionist measure is [also] harmful to the Iraqi nation and the entire region”.
Earlier on the day, the Parliament had reviewed the plebiscite in a closed session with the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council as guest speaker.
Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) also cited the legislators’ statement as saying, “The Iraqi people adopted the constitution and formed the central government in a democratic way and also cleared Iraq from ISIS’s presence with national unity. But conspiracies against Iraq have not ended and now the illegal referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan can damage this national unity and territorial integrity".
Condemning the KRG’s referendum, the statement says, “We support the decisions made by the Iraqi parliament and government and call upon the [Islamic Republic of Iran’s] administration to respond to Iraq’s central government and prepare the necessary means to cooperate with it and in no way let the Zionists’ [Israel] adventurism occur in Iraq”.
Israel has supported KRG’s separation from Iraq and in recent months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians have repeatedly welcomed the secession in more explicit ways.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel to stop supporting independence-seeking behavior in KRG, otherwise Ankara will halt the process to normalize its relations with Tel Aviv.
We support the decisions made by the Iraqi parliament and government and call upon the [Islamic Republic of Iran’s] administration to respond to Iraq’s central government and prepare the necessary means to cooperate with it and in no way let the Zionists’ [Israel] adventurism occur in Iraq.
Iranian government official News Agency, IRNA reported on Wednesday that Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was present in parliament's closed session to review the KRG’s referendum and latest regional developments.
Speaker Ali Larijani, later confirmed the topic of the meeting was the Kurdish referendum.
According to the spokesman of the Iranian parliament board of directors, Behrooz Ne’mati, “Shamkhani insisted that the Islamic Republic does not recognize the KRG’s referendum”.
However, Shamkhani reportedly has commented that the dispute should be addressed through diplomatic channels.
The closed session was held as a follow-up to an array of disparaging remarks against the Kurdish referendum by Iranian officials.
Nevertheless, the parliament’s deputy speaker and Tehran’s MP, Ali Motahari has urged the Islamic Republic authorities to avoid “oversensitivity” against the plebiscite, since “the case of ethnicity is on the table and Kurds support the referendum”.
On Monday night, thousands of Kurdish people in favor of KRG’s secession from Iraq took to the streets in Erbil, to celebrate.
A few hours after the polling stations had opened in Iraq's Kurdish region, the local Islamic Republic Broadcasting (IRIB) channel, carried reports of street rallies in a few Kurdish-populated cities in Iran. Mahabad and Sanandaj are two key Kurdish-populated cities that have witnessed rallies.
Based on reports on social media by eyewitnesses, there were some clashes with security forces and demonstrators chanted slogans in solidarity with Iraqi Kurds.
Meanwhile, Political, Social and Security deputy to West Azarbaijan province’s governorship, Alireza Radfar had earlier declared that no license was issued for rallies on the referendum.
Yet, the Islamic Republic’s news agency, IRIB, under the title of “Supportive Gathering” said on Tuesday, “People of [Iranian] ‘Kurdestan’ held rallies to congratulate the people of [Iraqi] ‘Kurdistan’ who speak the same language as they do”.
The recent referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region, took place in the three provinces that officially make up the Kurdish autonomous region -- Dahuk, Irbil, and Sulaimaniya -- and some neighboring areas. These areas include disputed cities such as oil-rich Kirkuk, Makhmour, Khanaqin, and Sinjar, over which Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have established control while fighting against Islamic State militants who captured large parts of Iraq in 2014.