As Iraq’s northern Kurdistan Region is holding a controversial referendum on independence, Iran has reasserted its support for the Arab country’s sovereignty and integrity.
In a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a day before the plebiscite, President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran was against any move that would undermine Iraq’s territorial integrity and national unity.
The vote was announced earlier in the year much to the consternation of the international community - regional countries in particular - with major parties warning that it could most likely throw the already violence-weary country into more trouble.
Prior to the vote, Iraq's Supreme Court ruled in favor of its suspension, and the Parliament voted to reject it. Abadi has even threatened military intervention in case the referendum leads to violence.
President Rouhani told the Iraqi premier, “In our view, Iraq’s Constitution should be respected by all, and any action that is in contravention of the constitution shall be deemed illegal. All should know that their legitimacy lasts as long as they act within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution.”
“In this important issue concerning Iraq, we will stand by our neighbor and the Iraqi government,” Iran's president reiterated.
The Iranian chief executive also pointed to an earlier conversation he had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and said Ankara and Tehran shared a common stance in their support for Baghdad on the issue.
Rouhani, however, expressed certitude that the Iraqi government and people would overcome this predicament, as they did in other cases before, by virtue of prudence and wisdom.
Abadi, for his part, warned that the Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani, who has pressed ahead with holding the referendum despite all opposition, would direct the course of events towards a new confrontation.
Baghdad has already trusted Erbil with far more authority that has been denoted in the constitution, Abadi noted, adding that Barzani was in fact overstepping the mark.
Whatever the result of the referendum, the federal government will never accept it, and will refuse to negotiate Kurdistan’s future, he asserted. “The region’s authorities should know that they should, under no circumstances, harbor thoughts of partitioning Iraq,” Abadi said.