TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spoken out against a referendum on independence for Iraqi Kurds set for later this year.
A Tuesday report on Khamenei’s website quoted him as telling visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, that Iraq “should remain integrated” and that advocates of Kurdish independence are “opponents of the independence and identity” of Iraq.
Iran has its own Kurdish minority in the west of the country and the central government dismantled a self-proclaimed Soviet-backed Kurdish government in the 1940’s.
Kurdish officials in Iraq say the referendum will be held in Sept. 25.
Iran and Iraq have been close allies since fall of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.