Kurdistan parliament approves independence referendum for September 25

US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS

"We've been waiting more than 100 years for this", Omed Khoshnaw, a lawmaker from the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDR) of KRG President Massoud Barzani said.

Accordingly, and in the face of bitter opposition from Baghdad, 65 out of 68 lawmakers present voted in favor of the September 25 poll as opposition members boycotted the parliament's first session in two years.

Even the United States, which initially endorsed the referendum, has warned against dire consequences of the KRG's unilateral declaration of independence.

The White House issued a statement following the Kurdish vote, calling on the Kurds to call off the vote and "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad".

"The referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat Daesh and stabilize the liberated areas", it added.

In June, Kurdish leaders announced a plan to hold a vote on Kurdistan's independence and scheduled it for September 25.

"We still haven't heard a proposal that can be an alternative to the Kurdistan referendum", he said.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians.

The neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries.

Kurds across the Kurdistan Region and overseas gathered in a show of solidarity for the historic independence vote.

Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) president, said Thursday he could consider an offer to delay the independence referendum.

Barzani criticized those claiming that referendum does not have legitimacy, saying "the referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan". Irbil and Baghdad have always been in disagreement over oil revenues and contracts the Kurdistan region has signed with oil companies. While Baghdad recognizes Kurdistan's autonomy, the precise boundary between the region and the rest of Iraq is unclear.

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