The supreme court intends to examine the appeals received on the vote. At the heart of the dispute is the "constitutionality" of the referendum. A Kurdish delegation waits in Baghdad for an official meeting. Concern among world news agencies: the vote is likely to weaken the Arab-Kurdish anti-Isis alliance and trigger a new internal conflict.
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iraqi Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of the Kurdistan independence referendum scheduled for September 25, which has already raised many divisions and heated debate regionally and internationally. Meanwhile, in world press - with the exception of Israel, the only power that favors the secession of Erbil - for the cancellation of the upcoming vote continue to grow.
Less than a week after the referendum consultation, the supreme court judges issued "the order to suspend the organization" until "appeals received" are considered; at the heat of the matter is the question of the "constitutionality" of the vote itself.
Supreme Court spokesman, Ayas al-Samouk, confirmed the deposition of "numerous appeals" over the past few weeks. Judicial sources add that at least eight parliamentarians resorted to the tribunal to halt the referendum. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office also intervened, which does not intend to loose a region rich in oil and strategic in the struggle of Islamic State jihadists (IS, formerly Isis).
So far, Kurdish President Massud Barzani, in the front row in the struggle for independence, did not want to comment on the supremacy of the Supreme Court. Today, a Kurdish delegation is waiting for Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi government the issue; the meeting will not be attended by the premier, who is already in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
British Defense Minister Michael Fallon has already arrived in Erbil, trying to convince Barzani to block the referendum. "I will tell Massud Barzani - said Fallon - that we do not support the Kurdish referendum" and we will work for an "alternative" plan.
The widespread fear is that the pro-independence vote could weaken the Arab-Kurdish alliance, which has proved to be crucial in the fight against the IS militaries in Iraq and neighboring Syria. Added to this is the danger of a new war within Iraq - as recently pointed out by the Chaldean Patriarchate, who is calling for dialogue and reconciliation – but is opposed by Arabs (Iraqis) and Kurds.
Turkey is also moving on the regional chess board, in view of a vote that is likely to fuel the internal separatism in the south-eastern, Kurdish majority region, home to separatist struggles in the past. Hence the decision to deploy troops to the Iraqi border and to promote a series of military operations.
Analysts and experts point out that the birth of a Kurdish bastion in an already controversial area is likely to fragment the Middle East region even further: a divided Iraq would end up significantly reducing the chances of influence exerted by Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia. And even the United States is ready to suspend military aid to Kurdistan if Erbil's leadership goes ahead with the vote.
The situation is equally critical in neighboring Syria, where the Kurds have played a strategic - and fundamental - role in the struggle against Isis. The area at the center of the dispute is that of Deir ez-Zor and the territories east of the Euphrates River, which are among the richest oil resources in the subsoil. It also has a strategic importance for Damascus, for the many connecting routes it offers, and for Tehran itself, because it is part of the so-called "Shiite corridor" linking the capital of the Islamic Republic to the Mediterranean.
The celebrations took place yesterday in the holy city, to remember the killing of Mohammed's grandson. Over 25,000 agents assigned to the security of the faithful. Participants chanted slogans and songs against the Kurdish leader Barzani and the "separatist conspiracy in northern Iraq".
High turnout among population, even Christian, and without any force or pressure to vote. AsiaNews source: a vote that calls for a redrawing of regional power balance, after Saddam, extremist violence and Isis. The "courageous dialogue" demanded by the Chaldean patriarch for a political solution. Fears over Erdogan’s “grave” threats.
Polls opened at 8 am local time in the three provinces of the autonomous region. First results expected tomorrow morning. Baghdad has already announced "measures" to defend the unity of the country, including a Kurdish oil blockade. Iran stops flights to and from Kurdistan. Ankara extends the mandate of Turkish troops to Iraq (and Syria).
To punish Kurdistan for daring to hold a referendum on independence, all flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh were canceled yesterday. Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt adhere to the embargo. To go abroad, there are only overcrowded local flights to Baghdad. Oil trade to Turkey does not stop. Growing Kurdish rage against Iraqi Arabs.
After Iran, tomorrow Turkey will also suspend flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh. The few available places reach dizzying figures. Kurdish borders controlled by the Iraqi army and Iranian and Turkish soldiers. Syria promises autonomy to the Syrian Kurds.