A day before the independence referendum, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani declared the partnership between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdish region a failure and promised that the non-binding referendum will take place on Monday as scheduled. He re-iterated that the referendum would only begin a dialogue towards resolving issues with the government in Baghdad. He also called Iraq a “theocratic, sectarian state” that had violated the power-sharing agreement instituted after the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003.
Not all Kurds agree with the referendum path. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.) prefers to follow the advice of the United Nations and United States to cancel the voting and renew negotiations with Baghdad. However, the P.U.K.’s office in Kirkuk reportedly encouraged Kurds in the contested region to vote “yes” on Monday; Kirkuk is not officially part of Kurdistan.
Meanwhile, Baghdad ordered Kurdistan to hand control of the airports and borders to federal government control, while it also asked other countries to deal with Baghdad exclusively when it comes to petroleum products.
The Iranian military conducted military drills near the border with Kurdistan. Iran’s state media reported that the games were part of an annual event that commemorates the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. However, Iran has already expressed its opposition to the referendum. The drills may be an excuse to reinforce troops should conditions deteriorate. As in Turkey, some Iranian Kurds have been fighting against Iran, and many of these militants reside in Iraqi Kurdistan. This has led to some cross border activity. Fresh shelling was reported today. Iran also closed Iranian airspace to flights from Kurdistan. A spokesman said the request came from Baghdad.
Turkey conducted airstrikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) targets in the Gara region.
Tensions over the referendum have not stopped negotiations between the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga forces over military operations in the Hawija region. On Sunday a deal was struck between them. Peshmerga forces will not withdraw from areas they currently control but will allow Iraqi troops access to some roads near Kirkuk. A corridor will be opened for displaced civilians to exit the battle zone. Also, Peshmerga forces will also provide other support to Iraqi troops during the offensive.
At least 116 were killed or executed, and eight were wounded:
An attack in Hilla left five people dead and one wounded.
Militants executed three youths in Qaim.
In Baghdad, gunmen killed a tribal fighter.
A bomb killed a civilian in Mansouriya.
Airstrikes on Hawija killed 48 militants.
Five militants were killed in a strike on Rawah.
Near Zab, a suicide bomber was killed.
Iraq executed 42 terrorism convicts at al-Hout prison in Nasariya.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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