The highest court in Iraq has approved a request by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to suspend an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The area planned to hold the referendum later this month.
The Iraqi supreme court announced on Monday that the election will be suspended until it studies cases related to the constitutionality of the vote.
Abadi has repeatedly spoken out against the referendum. He told an Iraqi news agency that the Kurds would be "playing with fire" by pushing for the vote in the Kurdish autonomous region.
The Kurdish area has repeatedly ignored efforts to cancel the referendum. And the court has little power to execute its order.
Iraqi Kurdistan regional President Masoud Barzani supports the referendum.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned last week that the Iraqi Kurdish plan to hold a vote on independence was a "grave mistake." "We don’t want to impose sanctions,” he continued, “but, if we arrive at that point, there are steps that have been already planned that Turkey can take."
Turkey shares a border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Some Turkish officials fear an independent Kurdish state could cause similar demands for independence in Turkey.
The United States has voiced strong opposition to the independence vote.
The Trump administration released a statement on the vote last Friday. It said the United States "does not support" the Kurdish plan to hold a referendum. It added that the plan "is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS (the self-declared Islamic State group) and stabilize the liberated areas."
The Trump administration wants the Iraqi Kurds to cancel the vote. Instead, administration officials want them to take part in "serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad." The U.S. government has offered to assist in possible talks.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Chris Hannas reported this story for VOANews.com. Jonathan Evans adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in this Story
autonomous – adj. existing or acting separately from other things or people; independent
stabilize – v. to make something unlikely to change
distract – v. to cause someone to stop thinking about something
sanction – n. an action taken to make a country obey a rule or law