President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the controversial Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) independence referendum with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over the phone, presidential sources reported. “The two leaders noted that not canceling the referendum will bring with it chaos in the region and they stressed the great importance which they attach to Iraq’s territorial integrity”, the statement released by Erdoğan’s office said. Iraqi Kurds in provinces controlled by the KRG in northern Iraq, including those who are contested between the central government and KRG, are set to head to polls on Monday to vote in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq. Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the U.N. have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region. Barzani has said a “Yes” vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.
On Tuesday 8th January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opens his tour in the