Najmaldin Karim amanpour
Kirkuk governor: Time is right for Kurds' vote
05:25 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani is vowing to go ahead with a referendum on Kurdish independence, despite an Iraqi Supreme Court ruling ordering a halt to next week’s vote and stiff opposition from major powers.

“The Kurdistan Region will happily negotiate with Baghdad after the referendum,” Barzani said in an online statement. “If we cannot become good partners within Iraq, then let us be great neighbors.”

Numbering about 30 million, Kurds make up a sizable minority in a number of Middle Eastern nations, comprising about 10% of the population in Syria, 19% in Turkey, 15-20% in Iraq, and nearly 10% in Iran. They have never had a nation state of their own, prompting Kurdish nationalist movements across the region.

The Kurdish region in northern Iraq is part of that country but it is semi-autonomous entity in a largely ethnic Kurdish swath.

Massoud Barzani  Iraqi Kurdish President

On Monday, Iraq’s highest court ordered the suspension of the September 25 referendum. The court’s move came in response to lawsuits challenging the planned vote. One was filed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Another was filed by four members of Iraq’s Parliament – who called for the suspension of the referendum and the designation of the poll as unconstitutional, according to court documents.

But Abdullah Warty, a member of the referendum committee, told CNN that the vote will go on as scheduled despite the court’s order. The referendum has been criticized by the United Nations, and US, British and Turkish diplomats.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said any referendum would take away from the battle against ISIS, and that the issue should be resolved through “structured dialogue and constructive compromise.”