KRG offers to freeze result of independence vote
Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leaders offered on Oct. 25 to freeze the outcome of last month’s vote for independence, as Iran reopened one of its three border crossings with the region.
With its latest move, KRG took a step back in the crisis that prompted Baghdad to seize swathes of disputed territory.
Washington, Moscow and the United Nations have all pressed KRG leader Masoud Barzani to open talks with Baghdad on a way out of the crisis sparked by the Sept. 25 vote.
The KRG said it would propose to the federal government “the freezing of the results of the referendum and the start of an open dialogue” on the basis of the constitution.
It also called for “an immediate ceasefire and cessation of military operations in Kurdistan.”
Since early last week, Iraqi federal troops and allied militia have retaken virtually all of the territory held by the Kurds outside their longstanding three-province autonomous region in the north.
The Hashed al-Shaabi, which has taken a hard line in the dispute with the Kurds, demanded that they annul the independence vote as a precondition for any dialogue.
“The Kurdish proposal is worthless because freezing the referendum means recognising it and the position of the Iraqi government is clear -- the referendum must be annulled,” Hashed spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told AFP.
The loss of so much territory, including the major city of Kirkuk and lucrative oil fields, dealt a huge blow to Kurdish dreams of independence.
Hours after the KRG made its offer, Iran reopened one of its three border crossings, which it closed in response to the vote, its director said.
“Today, the Bashmagh border crossing was reopened,” its director Jahangir Bakhshi told state broadcaster IRIB on Oct. 25.