Iraq dismisses Kirkuk governor amid dispute with Kurds

Iraq dismisses Kirkuk governor amid dispute with Kurds

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide what response to take over a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

The US officially declared its opposition to the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum on Saturday, as the Kurdistan parliament unanimously voted in favour of holding it on 25 September.

"The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas".

The United States has proposed unspecified "alternatives" to the poll.

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McGurk said he was optimistic Kurdish leaders would accept an alternative plan that would focus on dialogue between the region and Baghdad and postpone the referendum.

"The United States does not support the Kudish Regional Government's (KRG) intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement.

Controversially, the vote will also be held in so-called disputed areas outside the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) official boundaries.

The KRG has ignored increasing calls for the cancelation of the referendum, saying the vote would go ahead as planned.

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It was a dispute between Gorran and the KDP that caused the assembly to suspend its sessions in 2015.

The regional parliament's decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the U.S., which has provided critical military aid to the KRG's fight against Daesh, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum.

KRG President Masoud Barzani said Thursday he could consider an offer to delay the vote.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. Supporters of the referendum argue Kurds deserve their own state after fighting IS and facing years of oppression at the hands of governments in Baghdad, including gassing and ethnic cleansing under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

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