January 12, 2018 / 05:22 PM
Britain denies it 'betrayed' Iraqi Kurds

The UK has not “betrayed” the Iraqi Kurds over its opposition to last year’s independence referendum, a Foreign Office minister told MPs.

In December a senior diplomat from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq claimed his people had been “let down” by Britain and the international community over their response to the September vote.

Iraqi authorities in Baghdad have refused to recognize the pro-independence majority and retaken disputed territories outwith Kurdish boundaries set in 2003 borders, including the city of Kirkuk.

The UK was amongst countries to urge the KRG leadership to abandon plans for the landmark ballot, citing fears that it could destabilize the region and harm efforts to dismantle the IS.

Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG high representative to the United Kingdom, made the claim as Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee took evidence for its inquiry on “Kurdish aspirations and the interests of the UK”.

Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East, has now denied the claim before the same cross-party panel, The National reported.

On opposition to the ballot, he told them: “We formed a view very early that we didn’t believe it was in the interests of the region or those who advocated it. We weren’t alone in relation to this.”

He went on: “We don’t feel it’s a matter of betrayal by the United Kingdom to offer honest advice. We don’t think it’s a matter of betrayal by the United Kingdom if we simply disagree with those who take a contrary view.”

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