With a rate of 95%, the Kurds of northern Iraq voted in favour of their independence in last Monday’s referendum. Their leader, Masud Barzani, was not deterred by the pressures, recommendations, but also the extortions of the central government of Iraq, Turkey and Iran and organized the referendum, which is considered the last step before the Kurds’ independence in the region.
Ankara “roars”, but does not impose serious sanctions
Before and after the referendum, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been threatening the Kurds with a financial embargo and believes that Israel supports their independence. “Who will recognize your independence?” “Israel!” But as soon as we activate the sanctions, you will be caught in the middle, and you will not be able to find clothes and food; then what will Israel send you; how will it be sent?”, he wondered.
“Some speak of an embargo on food. Will no one wonder that such an embargo had been imposed on Palestine? Did this prevented their fight? If someone sends a ship to the Mersin port with humanitarian aid for the Kurds… what will you do? Will you open fire and throw bombs like the Israeli on Mavi Marmara?”, wonders the political analyst of Hurriyet, Ertugrul Ozkok.
Turkey had raised the Kurdish flag at the Prime Minister’s office
However, in the Turkish opposition, they recall that when Masut Barzani had visited Ankara, the flag of Kurdistan had been placed at the Prime Minister’s office.
The oil pipeline and the tap Erdogan threatens to close
In another speech, the Turkish president threatened to close the oil pipeline that transports oil from Kirkuk to the Turkish port Ceyhan. “Let us now see where the new administration of northern Iraq will sells its oil. The tap is in our hands”, he had stated characteristically.
“On an international level and especially in energy policy, the opening and closing of taps according to political developments is against predictability, which is an important factor in the energy markets. As such, such thoughts can damage the credibility of the Kirkuk-Turkey oil pipeline”, says the political analyst of Hurriyet Denise Zeyrek.
The truth is that Ankara is the main supplier of basic necessities to the Kurds of northern Iraq.
However, the Turkish Finance Minister Nihat Zeybekci, in an interview with the newspaper Hurriyet, has made it clear that it is wrong to talk about an embargo in northern Iraq, as our financial transactions exceed USD 8 billion. The embargo with Russia was a lesson on the damages any sanction brings. Northern Iraq is Turkey’s third largest trading partner after Germany and the United Kingdom.
Turkey is afraid that the creation of a Kurdish state next to its borders may mobilize the Kurds who living in the southeastern provinces of the country for similar action. That is the reason Ankara supports the unity both of Syria and Iraq.
The slack sanctions of Turkey and the hard stance of Iran
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has announced that all Turkish airlines are stopping their flights to Arbil of northern Iraq, and issued a travel guide to those who will travel to the area. Nevertheless, Turkey has not closed its airspace, nor its borders with northern Iraq.
“What is strange is that despite the intense reactions and threats of Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, there is no concern at Arbil. They feel safe as the US Embassy in Baghdad has been given a clear mandate to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibandi not to take any military action against the Kurds. They have realized that Iraq will not do anything, that Iran will not dare. They pay attention to what Ankara will say, but they expect that after the strong announcements etc., in about a month, Turkey’s attitude will soften”, says Haberturk columnist Nagehan Alci.
5000 Grey Wolves are stand ready to intervene
The leader of the Nationalist Action Party, Devlet Bahceli, in a speech to his parliamentary group, said there are 5000 Gray Wolves who are ready to rush to support the Turkomans in Kirkuk. Initially, this statement made many heads to turn, but political analysts recall that Ankara had made similar statements about the Syrian Turks, but eventually did nothing, and now the areas they live are under the control of the forces of the country’s president, Basar Al Assad.
Presidential elections and Kurdistan
“I think there is a new phase in US politics. We are talking about a Kurdish state under Barzani’s presidency and in Syria an autonomous Kurdish region. The referendum took place, however the independent will not be declared immediately. Barzani has patience. The announcement of a Kurdish state and an autonomous region in 2019 will strongly affect Turkey’s presidential elections. This is one of the goals”, says the political analyst of Hurriyet Abdulkadir Selvi, who has close ties with the Turkish government./IBNA