BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Fuad Masum today blamed a Kurdish independence referendum for triggering a military intervention by Iraqi forces to take control of the disputed province of Kirkuk.
"Holding a referendum on the Kurdistan region's independence from Iraq stirred grave disagreements between the central government and the government of Kurdistan," Masum, himself a Kurd, said in a televised address.
That "led to federal security forces retaking direct control of Kirkuk," he said.
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly on September 25 for independence from Baghdad.
Regional president Massud Barzani had pushed ahead with the poll in defiance of Baghdad, Washington and Iraq's neighbouring states.
Masum, who belongs to a rival Kurdish party long at odds with Barzani, said the central government had made "strenuous efforts to reach a solution".
But, he said, a "grave crisis... broke out between the federal government and the government of Iraqi Kurdistan because the latter insisted on unilaterally holding the referendum".