As the Kurdistan Regional Government’s September 25th referendum on independence fast approaches, Baghdad has begun to warn the KRG that it is willing to us force to keep Iraq unified.
Iraqi Defense Minister Irfan al-Hayali said the following while on a trip to Iran aimed at strengthening cooperation:
“The army will intervene to prevent any attempts or illegal measures aimed at dividing the country.”
Irfan al-Hayali later denied the statements and said they had been mistranslated.
Kurdistan has been a long time coming and many believe that the Bush 2 administration was pushing for an eventual split from Iraq. “The people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to decide on their future peacefully,” President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has repeatedly stated.
Although the US has often said it supports an eventual independent Kurdistan, recent comments suggest a subtle backtracking from outward support. The US fears a drive towards independence now will complicate its relationship with Baghdad and formerly push it into the arms of Iran.
Iran’s State News Agency reported the following:
Iran and Iraq on Sunday signed deals aimed at boosting military and defense cooperation during a visit by Baghdad’s Defense Minister Irfan al-Hayali to Tehran. In a memorandum of understanding, signed by Hayali and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan.
With the ties already growing the US may need to jettison its current policy and support Kurdistan openly. The coming referendum will put the USA to the test on whether it really wants to stop Iran or not.