IRBIL, Iraq, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Iraqi Kurdistan's prime minister has threatened "a real civil war" after the federal government missed a deadline to count voters in disputed territories.
The government was to conclude a list of eligible voters in oil-rich Kirkuk and other disputed territories in the north, just outside the Kurdistan Regional government, by July 31. That didn't happen, the Financial Times reports. The KRG head of foreign relations, Falah Mustafa Bakir, said it "shows a lack of seriousness from all parties."
The process is enshrined in article 140 of the 2005 constitution, an attempt to reverse Saddam Hussein's mass displacement of Kurds and other non-Arabs and redraw the provincial boundaries of the area. After the voter list is compiled, a referendum is to be held where the voters can decide whether to join the KRG.
The move is a must-have for Kurds but is opposed by Sunni Arabs and Turkomen, who dispute Kurdish claims of historic rights to Kirkuk, where more than a third of Iraq's vast reserves lay.
"If clause 140 is not implemented, then there will be a real civil war," KRG President Massoud Barzani told the Alhurra TV network, a U.S.-funded operation. "The Kurds will never relinquish or bargain over Kirkuk, but we accepted to regain Kirkuk through constitutional and legal methods. But if we despair of those constitutional and legal methods, then we will have the right to resort to other means."
Barzani added, "If this issue is not resolved, as I said before, all options are open."