Kurdish parliamentarians decide to return to Baghdad

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Iraqi Kurds take part in a demonstration at Arbil airport, in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, after the central government ordered the indefinite halt to all foreign flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan on September 29, 2017. Iraq's government cut the autonomous northern Kurdish region's direct air links with the outside world indefinitely after it voted a massive "yes" in a referendum on independence. / AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED

Kurdish members of the Iraqi Parliament have announced their decision to return to the federal Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad to defend the rights of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north of the country, the Doğan news agency reported on Sunday.

The Kurdish parliamentarians who had reportedly gone to Arbil for an independence referendum on Sept. 25 held a press conference on Sunday.

At the briefing Museena Emin, the spokesperson of the Kurdistan Islamic Union Party (Yekgirtu), said they decided to return to Baghdad to protect the rights of the Kurdish people in the Iraqi Parliament.

“We need to reach an agreement to prevent the Iraqi Parliament from straying.”

Referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threats towards the KRG following the independence referendum, Emin said, “Statements or steps like ‘not giving any food ‘ [to the Iraqi Kurdish people] are considered crimes even in a state of war.”

“We can’t allow disorder right across our border,” Erdoğan said on Sunday, according to Turkey’s state-run TRT-Haber.

Speaking at a ceremony in Parliament to mark the start of the new legislative year, Erdoğan said: “We can’t allow disorder right across our border that would pose a permanent threat to both the people of Iraq and its neighboring countries, particularly Turkey. Defending the rights of the Kurds in Arbil should not mean ignoring the rights of the Arabs in Mosul and those of the Turkmen in Kirkuk.”

Referring to the controversial independence referendum held by the KRG on Monday, Erdoğan said on Saturday that the KRG would pay a price for holding a referendum despite Turkey’s objections.

Warnings from the Baghdad administration and abroad, including from Ankara and Washington, notwithstanding, the KRG held a referendum for a separate Kurdistan state in northern Iraq.

The results show that over 92 percent of more than 3 million people voted in favor of separation from Baghdad and the formation of an independent Kurdistan state.

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