Egypt warns against "catastrophic" Kurdish referendum in Iraq
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has warned that a potential referendum on the independence of Iraq’s Kurdistan region would lead to a “catastrophic” breakup of the country.
“The referendum that the Kurds are asking for now is in reality no more than the start of a catastrophic division of Iraq into smaller rival states,” Sisi told journalists on Sunday.
“ISIL had a plan to take over Egypt,” Sisi said. “I had warned the United States and Europe from providing any aid to them and told them they will come out of Syria to target Iraq then Jordan then Saudi Arabia.”
In recent weeks, Iraqi Kurds have expanded their territory by up to 40 percent as the Takfiri militants of the ISIL seized areas in the west and north of the country.
Sisi’s comments come after remarks by the president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, who has said that measures are being taken for holding a referendum on Kurdistan’s future within months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for potential Kurdish independence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday rejected the attempt by the KRG to hold the independence referendum as unconstitutional and said it would “damage them a lot.”
The ISIL militants took control of Mosul on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.