World Bulletin / News Desk
The non-binding referendum is expected to see residents in provinces controlled by the Iraqi regional government vote on independence from Baghdad on Sept. 25.
Baghdad rejects the planned poll, saying it will adversely affect the fight against the ISIL terrorist group, which still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq.
Turkey, too, rejects it, stating the region’s stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.
Speaking exclusively to AA, Ozdemir said the oil revenue sharing deal between Baghdad and Erbil has already lost its validity. He explained that in the last three and a half years, Erbil has exported its oil to international markets through Turkey, independently from Baghdad's central government.
Ozdemir highlighted that the status of Kirkuk's oil fields has great potential to inflame conflict between the sides.
"KRG's efforts to join Kirkuk in the Kurdish region's vote on independence through declaring a fait accompli created tension between Baghdad and Erbil. Therefore, we can say that these efforts have caused a very serious conflict potential," he said.
Discord between Baghdad and northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government has long been the subject of dispute in the oil-rich Kirkuk province that is home to Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs.
Ozdemir highlighted the determining role of neighboring countries like Turkey and Iran along with countries further afield that have expressed their opposition to the vote, namely the U.S., the U.K., and on the other hand to Israel, the only country that has given its overt support to the vote in this critical process.
Russia, for its part has also a key role to play, as the KRG's major partner in bilateral energy projects in the region, and because of this, the KRG is attempting to gain its support for the yes vote for independence.