Turkey threatens Iraqi Kurds with oil cut
ERBIL/ANKARA: Turkey threatened potentially crippling restrictions on oil trading with Iraqi Kurds yesterday after they backed independence from Baghdad in a referendum that has alarmed Ankara as it faces a separatist insurgency from its own Kurdish minority.
Iraq’s Kurds endorsed secession by nine to one in a vote earlier this week that has angered Turkey, the central government in Baghdad, and other regional and world powers, who fear the referendum could lead to renewed conflict in the region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider alAbadi’s office said he had been told by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in a call that Turkey would break with past practice and deal only with the Baghdad Government over oil exports from Iraq.
Most oil that flows through a pipeline from Iraq to Turkey comes from Kurdish sources and a cutoff would severely damage the Kurdish Regional Government, which relies on sales of crude for almost all its hard currency revenues.
A International flights to and from Iraq’s Kurdistan region were set to end from 1500 GMT yesterday after the central government imposed a ban in retaliation for the region’s vote for independence.
Almost all foreign airlines suspended flights to the airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniya, in compliance with a notice from the Government in Baghdad, which has control over the country’s airspace. — Reuters