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US, Israel benefit from separatist moves in region: Iran official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

A senior Iranian official has expressed the Islamic Republic’s opposition to a referendum on independence of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, warning that separatist moves in region would ultimately serve the interests of the US and the Israeli regime.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran opposes any move either knowingly or unknowingly towards independence of one part of Iraq or any other country in the region,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Saturday.

He added that Iran is a “strategic ally” of Iraq and agrees with whatever is demanded by the legal Iraqi government.

He said the legal Iraqi government and most of the country’s people are opposed to Kurdistan’s independence vote and seek an “integrated Iraq.”

The senior Iranian official warned that any move to partition the region would bear no fruits and “undoubtedly, arrogant and hegemonic powers, particularly the US and the Zionist regime [of Israel], will benefit from it.”

He once again reiterated the Islamic Republic’s opposition to any plan aimed at undermining regional security.

The Iraqi parliament voted on September 12 to reject a Kurdish independence referendum, requiring Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the central government in Baghdad to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue” with Kurdish leaders.

The decision prompted a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers.

The Kurdish referendum is scheduled for September 25, but the central government in Baghdad is opposed to the vote.

In open defiance of Baghdad’s strong disapproval of the referendum, 65 out of the 68 Kurdish lawmakers present in the regional parliament on Friday voted in favor of the polls as opposition legislators boycotted the parliament’s first session in two years.

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