While the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, Major General Qassem Suleimani failed to convince the Kurdish leadership to postpone the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence scheduled for Sept. 25, Kurdish sources uncovered on Thursday that the US placed the Kurdish leadership in front of three choices concerning the upcoming vote.
Ala Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) faction in the parliament told Asharqiyah news channel in comments later confirmed by Asharq Al-Awsat from another source that US ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman told Kurdish leaders in their last meeting held a few days ago that they had three choices concerning the referendum.
The ambassador said: “The first choice is to cancel the referendum without setting another date for it, and in this case, the US shall continue to support the Kurds. The second is to hold the referendum inside the Kurdistan region territories and in this case, the US will remain silent about the vote. The third and the most dangerous choice is to hold the referendum inside and outside the Kurdistan region and in such case, they alone should bear the responsibility of the move by not receiving any US support even if Baghdad and Iran decide to intervene militarily.”
Meanwhile, a Kurdish official told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity that General Suleimani failed to convince the leaderships of the two main Kurdish parties to keep the Kurdistan region part of Iraq.
The source said: “Suleimani visited Erbil on Tuesday and met with a number of ministers and high-ranking members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and asked them to cancel the referendum. However, his request was rejected.”
He added that Kurdish President Masoud Barzani did not even meet with Suleimani.
According to the same source, Suleimani received a similar response when he met with officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniya.