Turkey threatens retaliation after Iraqi Kurdish vote
(Turkey): The Iraqi government ruled out talks on possible secession for Kurdish-held northern Iraq on Tuesday and Turkey threatened sanctions after a referendum in the region showed strong support for independence.
Initial results of Monday’s vote indicated 72 per cent of eligible voters had taken part and an overwhelming majority, possibly over 90 per cent, had said “yes”, Kurdish TV channel Rudaw said. Final results are expected by Wednesday.
Celebrations continued until the early hours of Tuesday in Erbil, capital of the Kurdish region, which was lit by fireworks and adorned with Kurdish red-whitegreen flags.. In ethnically mixed Kirkuk, where Arabs and Turkmen opposed the vote, authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed to maintain control.
In neighbouring Iran, which has a large Kurdish minority, thousands of Kurds marched in the streets to show their support for the referendum, defying a show of strength by Tehran which flew fighter jets over their areas.
The referendum has fuelled fears of a new regional conflict. Turkey, which has fought a Kurdish insurgency within its borders for decades, reiterated threats of economic and military retaliation.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani says the vote is not binding, but meant to provide a mandate for negotiations with Baghdad and neighbouring countries over the peaceful secession of the region from Iraq.
But Iraq’s opposition to Kurdish independence did not waver.
“We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said in a speech on Monday night.
The Kurds held the vote despite threats from Baghdad, Iraq’s powerful eastern neighbour Iran, and Turkey, the region’s main link to the outside world. “This referendum decision, which has been taken without any consultation, is treachery,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said, repeating threats to cut off the pipeline that carries hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day from northern Iraq to global markets. Full story @ timesofoman.com/world
DRILL: A Turkish tank manoeuvres during a military exercise near the Turkish-Iraqi border in Silopi, Turkey on Tuesday.-