TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “We have expressively announced that we are behind Iraq’s central government. We believe that the behavior of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) does not benefit itself or the region,” he said on Tuesday.
“We do not accept partition in the region and we believe that any help for establishing Iraq’s central government is in favor of Iraqi nation.”
Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region kicked off an independence referendum on Monday in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and urgent calls from the international community to scrap the vote.
The voting stations are dotted across the three provinces of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk that form the Iraqi Kurdistan Region as well as in the disputed bordering zones such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
Initial results are expected to be announced 24 hours after the vote. The non-binding vote on the secession of the semi-autonomous region has irked the central government.
Keyvan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said on Sunday Iran had closed its airspace to all flights to and from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq at the request of the country's federal government.
“At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Erbil airports as well as all flights through our country’s airspace originating in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region have been halted,” Khosravi said.
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that the country’s land border with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region remained open despite its independence referendum.
“The land borders between Iran and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are open and these borders have not been closed,” the ministry said, adding that only air borders between Iran and this region were currently closed.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani held separate phone calls with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his Turkish and Russian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin respectively, over the past two days to discuss the independence vote.
Rouhani, Abadi, Erdogan and Putin have voiced their opposition to the independence vote, saying that they support Iraq’s territorial integrity and national unity.