The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday condemned a referendum vote slated for later this month that would possibly grant independence to Iraqi Kurds.
Kurds in the three counties that make up their self-ruled region of Iraq plan to hold their vote September 25, although the parliament called the vote “unconstitutional.”
The parliament, on its website, called the referendum a “threat to Iraq's integrity” and said in its ruling that the central government should “take all necessary measures to preserve” unity in the country.
The parliamentary session Tuesday was boycotted by all Kurdish members, according to lawmaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who was present.
A high-ranking Kurdish official told the Reuters news agency the parliamentary vote was non-binding and would not affect the vote.
"The Kurdish parliament will definitely have a response to the resolution when it convenes on Thursday," said Hoshyar Zebari, former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani.
The referendum vote is opposed by regional neighbors Turkey, Iran and Syria, who fear the separatism in Iraq could spread to Kurdish populations within their borders. The U.N. mission to Iraq has said it will not be “engaged in any way or form” in the vote.
Kurdish people in the Middle East have been seeking an independent state of their own since at least the end of World War I, when colonial powers divided up the region, leaving the Kurds split up in separate countries.