Iraqi court declares Kurdish secession "unconstitutional"

Iraq's top court ruled against Kurdish secession Monday, one day after the Iraqi government cut the Kurdish government's share of the national budget without consulting Kurdish leaders.
By Lila Alexander | Nov 08, 2017
Iraq's top court dealt a blow to Kurdish separatists Monday with a ruling that decreed secession of any part of Iraq to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Federal Court's verdict, expressed in a statement by court spokesman Ivas al-Samouk, was that the Iraqi constitution mandates Iraq's territorial unity and integrity.

Since the court is Iraq's highest, its verdicts cannot be appealed. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on all parties to "totally abide by" the constitution and the court's ruling.

"We call on the region to clearly state its commitment to non-separation or independence [of any province or sub-region] from Iraq," a statement from his office said.

Separately, the Iraqi government reduced the Kurdish region's share of the national Iraqi budget Sunday from 17% to 12.6% without consulting any Kurdish ministers. Kurdish cabinet officials challenged this budget move as against the country's financial laws.

Some Kurdish leaders also objected to recent suggestions by al-Abadi that he might attend to the Kurdish region's individual areas as separate provinces and would dole out their shares of the national budget one by onethe Kurdish leaders said he is really attempting to dismantle the Kurdish region into more easily controllable parts.

The Kurds are the majority population of a northeastern region of Iraq and have semi-autonomy under their own ruling authority, the Kurdish Regional Government. This government also controls a string of border areas, including the cities of Kirkuk and Makhmour, which Kurdish peshmergas had captured from ISIS.

On September 25, residents of the entire Kurdish Regional Government's jurisdiction voted 92% in favor of a non-binding referendum to secede from Iraq. Iraq's central government denounced the vote and deployed military forces to seize about 40% of the border areas. Kurdish peshmerga fighters confronted them, and several exchanges of fire occurred, albeit without casualties.

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