Turkey threat­ens re­tal­i­a­tion af­ter Iraqi Kur­dish vote

Times of Oman - - WORLD -


(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.-

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