The leader of the Iran-backed Shi'ite Hizballah movement has called the independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds the first step toward the partition of the Middle East and warned it would lead to "internal wars.”
"It will open the door to partition, partition, partition," Hassan Nasrallah said on September 30 in Beirut. "Partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God."
Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence in the September 25 nonbinding referendum in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.
National authorities in Baghdad vehemently opposed the referendum and responded by cutting the region's direct air links with the outside world.
The United States and other Western nations and the United Nations also opposed the vote, as did neighbors Turkey and Iran, which have large Kurdish minorities.
Nasrallah said the vote was a threat to the entire region and not just Iraq or neighboring states with Kurdish populations.
"The responsibility of the Kurds, Iraqi people, and concerned counties...is to stand against the beginning of divisions," Nasrallah said.
Hizballah is a political and military movement that has also deployed thousands of fighters in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s six-year civil war.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP