Israel endorses independent Kurdish state

Israel endorses independent Kurdish state

Western powers are anxious that the referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, which includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, may divert attention from the war against the Islamic State.

Al-Maliki did not say why the governor was sacked, but the move came after Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in a referendum on Kurdish independence slated for later this month. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Parliament voted on September 14 to remove the governor of Kirkuk from office following a request from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, according to several lawmakers who attended the vote.

Israel's leader on Wednesday said his country supports Kurdish independence ahead of a key referendum on the matter.

Ankara is also concerned about the presence of the Syrian Kurdish militia People's Protection Units (YPG) in the border area, fearing an autonomous Kurdish region could also emerge in northern Syria.

In a recent visit to Turkey, Major General Baqeri said Tehran and Ankara share a common view on the Iraqi Kurds' decision to hold an independence referendum.

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Iraqi parliamentarians have rejected the legitimacy of the vote and the central government in Baghdad which is strongly opposed to this move has said it will do everything possible to keep the unity of the country intact.

They regard the city, just outside their Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, as their historical capital. But the statement said Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own".

Israel's apparent support for the referendum has been roundly condemned in pro-government Turkish media. "If any authority around the world... concludes that (Iraq's Kurds) deserve or merit an independent entity of their own, we appreciate that position".

Meanwhile, the leader of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the referendum is "a natural right".

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