Turkey on Friday said the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq's decision to hold an independence referendum was "a grave mistake".
A day after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that they are scheduling a referendum on secession for September 25, the US State Department has issued a statement expressing "concern" about the vote, saying that there are "more urgent priorities" in Iraq than the Independence of the Kurdish people.
Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday said it would hold a referendum on independence, a move unlikely to be welcome by the central government in Baghdad. "Protection of the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq is one of the basic principles of Turkey's Iraq policy".
The Kurdish region's "peshmerga" fighters have also proved tough allies in the US-led coalition battling the ISIL in northern Iraq.
Germany is a major partner of the Iraqi Kurds.
"A referendum is a democratic process, no democratic country can oppose having a referendum; we are not talking about independence, we are talking about the referendum".
Turkey is criticizing Iraqi Kurdish officials' decision to hold a referendum in Iraq's autonomous northern region, calling it "a grave mistake".
Other countries in the region, including Iran and Syria, have historically opposed any notion of KRG independence, as each state fears separatism and the further insecurity it could bring to the Middle East.
Map showing where Kurds live.
The announcement triggered mass exclamations of support from Kurds on social media, according to Kurdistan24, which notes that "Kurds are believed to be the largest stateless nation in the world, estimated to be over 40 million".
The Sinjar region is populated by Yazidis, the followers of an ancient religion who speak a Kurdish language and the group most persecuted by Islamic State.
Opposition in Baghdad to Iraqi Kurdistan becoming independent would become even greater if the region tried to take disputed territory along with it.