Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday voiced his support for the Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) controversial independence referendum in a move that defies regional and global powers opposing the vote.
Baghdad and Iraq's neighbours are opposed to the vote. "If any authority around the world. concludes that (Iraq's Kurds) deserve or merit an independent entity of their own, we appreciate that position".
Western powers are anxious that the referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, which includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, may divert attention from the war against the Islamic State.
The Iraqi government said that the Kurdish independence referendum vote will adversely affect the fight against the ISIS or Daesh terrorist group, which still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq. Kareem himself vowed to ignore parliament and press on with the plebiscite. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli had on August 24 suggested that the planned referendum should be deemed a "cause of war" for Turkey if necessary.
"The prime minister does not have the power to ask parliament to remove me", he said.
Kareem is a vocal supporter of the referendum and campaigned for the vote also to be held in Kirkuk.
Kurds have long claimed Kirkuk and its huge oil reserves.
"The Iraqi government is punishing the Kurdistan region". But the ethnically mixed city also has Arab and Turkmen populations.
Ankara has in recent years forged strong ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq but is extremely wary of any move towards independence by the region.
Karim said he will keep his post, adding he has received phone calls from Kurdish officials such as President Barzani who offered their support. Baghdad has repeatedly criticized the move and the Iraqi Parliament has already voted against the referendum.
The people of KRG, especially Kirkuk, will not be bound by the parliament's decision, a presidential statement said, adding the Kirkuk governor was elected to office and approved by the provincial council. "This basically mean that the current leaders of Iraq don't want us to be their partners".
Kalin on Thursday said: "There will absolutely be consequences for this referendum decision", without elaborating further.
Kirkuk Now, a media outlet close to the PUK, reported on Thursday that the PUK office in Kirkuk voted to exclude Kirkuk from the Kurdish referendum. A majority voted to remove the governor, lawmaker Husham al-Suhail told Reuters.
The article states that a governor of one Iraq's 19 provinces can be dismissed for one of four reasons, including whether public funds have been wasted or negligence. He refused to give details. "The government has not been able to display a determined stance against the north Iraqi referendum", said main oppotion Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Bülent Tezcan on September 13.
Kurdistan Region's High Committee of Referendum announced earlier that the poll will be held on Sept 25.