1150 GMT October 18, 2019
A number of senior Iranian officials reacted to the holding of an independence referendum by Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday, describing it as an Israeli plot aimed at partitioning the Middle Eastern state and the region and an illegal and worthless move which will cause new tensions.
On September 25, Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region kicked off an independence referendum in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and urgent calls from the international community to scrap the vote.
The voting stations were dotted across the three provinces of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk that form the Iraqi Kurdistan region as well as in the disputed bordering zones such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
Commenting on the highly controversial referendum, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said this is a new US-Israeli plot in the Middle East to partition the country.
Rahim Safavi warned that the Kurds will suffer as a result of the plan.
“After the defeat of Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Kurdistan’s referendum will result in the escalation of tensions and crisis in the region,” he said on Monday.
The non-binding vote on the secession of the semi-autonomous region has irked the central government.
The high-ranking Iranian official added that even if the Kurdish people voted ‘yes’ for the independence of the region, Iraq’s central government, parliament and military forces would not accept the result.
He stressed that Iran had expressed its objection to the plebiscite by closing its airspace to all flights to and from the Kurdish region in Iraq.
Keyvan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said on Sunday that Iran had closed its airspace to all flights to and from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq at the request of the country’s federal government.
“At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Erbil airports as well as all flights through our country’s airspace originating in the Iraqi Kurdistan region have been halted,” Khosravi said.
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that the country’s land border with the Iraqi Kurdistan region remained open despite its independence referendum.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri
Zionist regime to blame
In separate comments on this topic, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri blamed the Zionist regime for orchestrating a plot to hold the independence referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The Zionist regime of Israel and the global arrogance are behind the referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan, Baqeri said in a gathering of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry personnel on Monday.
He also slammed Monday’s controversial vote as a plot.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the only leader in the region to endorse the referendum, while all neighbors have warned that the secession plan would bring instability to the region and disintegrate Iraq.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani was the other senior official to react to the independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), saying the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan region will cause new tension in the region.
He also maintained that it is Israel’s policy to partition the Middle East.
Larijani described Iraqi Kurdistan groups as friends, to whom Iran had lent assistance to create the new Iraqi government in a democratic process.
“Ever since the new Iraqi government was established and the Iraqi nation took control over the future of its own country, certain world powers and regional states began to stir up conflict and back terrorist groups in Iraq. It has taken over three years to bring Daesh down to its knees in the Arab country,” he said.
Larijani regretted the fact that Daesh’s activities have not yet stopped completely in Iraq, saying some parts of the Middle Eastern state are still under Daesh control, and only Mosul has been fully liberated.
He noted: “Although we held talks with authorities from the central government of Iraq and they negotiated with KRG officials, it appears that other elements are responsible for provocations in Iraqi Kurdistan. I was saddened to hear that a KRG official had thanked the Zionist regime for helping them.”
The split will cause trouble for the KRG, said Larijani, adding the move is not supported by any country.
“Iran, by no means, supports the partitioning of Iraq as it is not in favor of partitioning other regional countries.”
It is the Zionists’ policy to divide the Middle East, he stressed.
Larijani voiced Iran’s full support for Iraq’s central government, adding, “Iraq can become a powerful country in the region and enjoy a democratic structure. Therefore, we do not condone any move aimed at creating further conflict and undermining the federal government of Iraq.”
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani
Criticizing the holding of the referendum, a senior adviser to Iran’s Leader, Ali Akbar Velayati, said on Tuesday that the Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence vote is illegal, worthless, and produces no positive outcome.
“The Iraqi Kurdistan is definitely a part of Iraq,” said Ali Akbar Velayati. He added that the referendum will certainly lead to political turmoil in the region.
Velayati stressed that it is not even clear how correct their referendum is, saying what is imposed is not acceptable.
He noted that Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, had long shown that he was connected with the Zionists.
Stressing that the KRG is part of Iraq, Velayati said the Iraqi people will not remain silent over the issue and will definitely stand against such hateful deviations.
Velayati said that Americans and Israelis are behind the scenes of the turmoil in Iraq, adding that since they did not manage to achieve anything from their self-developed terrorist group, the Daesh, they are now doing their best to stir up hatred among Muslims.