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Iraq’s Sadr Asks Barzani to Postpone Kurdish Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A man sews an Iraqi Kurdish flag bearing a portrait of Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of northern Iraq. (AFP)

Baghdad – Head of Iraq’s Sadrist Movement Moqtada al-Sadr requested from Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani the postponement of the autonomous region’s independence referendum that is planned for September.

Sadr added: “I ask my brother Masoud Barzani to postpone the referendum, especially since we are moments away from the liberation of Mosul.”

This marks the first time that the Iraqi leader has commented on the referendum.

He said that the postponement will be “the first step to the referendum’s eventual elimination.”

“Iraq is one and for all. As long as they love their nation and do not serve foreign agendas, then we will not discriminate between the people,” Sadr stressed.

His hope for the “eventual elimination” of the referendum is probably based on the same conviction shared by various Arab politicians and movements that reject the independence vote and Iraqi Kurdistan’s separation from Iraq.

Given Sadr’s good ties with the majority of the political factions in the autonomous region, including Barzani, and his general approach to avoid escalation with Kurds, contrary to his foe Nuri al-Maliki, have led him to calmly and carefully handle the current disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.

This was demonstrated by his condemnation of calls to drive out Kurds from Baghdad. Sadr said that such demands were made by people seeking to “deepen the national divide.”

They believe that they will win votes from the people by making such prejudiced remarks, he added, while accusing them of violating national principles.

Two weeks ago, a member of the Baghdad district council Saad al-Matlabi had stated: “If a referendum is carried out in Kurdistan, then not a single Kurd will remain in Baghdad or in any government post.”

“His Iraqi citizenship will be revoked and he will be expelled from the country,” he vowed.