Home/ News / World/  Iraq’s Maliki rejects planned Kurdish independence vote

Dubai: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected Kurds’ plans to hold a referendum on independence for their northern region and their vow to hold a recently captured oil hub until the vote is held.

Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani told the BBC that he sees an independence referendum in months. Maliki, referring to a Sunni insurgency that has caught his army off guard, said on Wednesday that nobody has the right to take advantage of the current events to impose facts on the ground.

We don’t have anything called self-determination in our constitution, Maliki said in a televised address.

As Sunni insurgents made rapid gains against the army in northern Iraq last month, the Kurds’ Peshmerga force defended the semi-autonomous Kurdish area and extended its control into disputed areas including Kirkuk, the largest northern oil field. The Kurds, who have long staked a claim to Kirkuk, occupied it after the army fled from the rebels.

The field, Maliki said, must be returned to the central government’s sovereignty. Then we sit down and talk, he said. These problems can’t be solved by pressure and blackmail.

The US readied to sell Iraq thousands of missiles and a second batch of Russian Sukhoi combat jets arrived in Baghdad as foreign powers moved to help Iraqi forces battle an al-Qaeda offshoot.

Government’s arsenal

Steps to beef up the government’s arsenal came as politicians deadlocked over who will lead Iraq as it risks hurtling into renewed civil war. Shiite Prime Minister Maliki is under pressure from domestic opponents to step aside to allow the formation of a broad-based government that would give a greater say to the Sunni minority in an effort to undercut the Sunni insurgency.

Media reported dozens killed and injured in fighting across the country since Tuesday.

The risk of sectarian civil war in Iraq, OPEC’s second- biggest oil producer, flared last month after the Sunni al-Qaeda breakaway, now known as the Islamic State, seized Mosul, the country’s biggest northern city, and advanced on other towns. The US state department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles to support its fight against the Islamist insurgents, according to people familiar with the plan.

West Texas Intermediate for August delivery traded for $104.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 0.5%, at 9:10 am local time. Brent for August settlement traded for $111.55 a barrel, down 0.7% at 2:10 pm local time on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. BLOOMBERG

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Updated: 02 Jul 2014, 07:40 PM IST
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