Strong reaction from Iran
Ankara threatens to close the tap of the oil pipeline. For now it bans the broadcast of the Kurdish television network
Despite the threats, blackmail and recommendations of Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, the Kurds of northern Iraq and their leader Masout Barzani did not back down and on Monday the vote on the independence, organized by the Kurdish Regional Government, went ahead as planned.
The polling stations closed at 6pm and the result is expected to be released within three days and is expected to be in favour of the independence of the Kurds of the region.
Baghdad tries to prevent the referendum but fails
The Iraqi central government in a desperate attempt to prevent the referendum called on the Kurds of northern Iraq to hand over their international airports and border crossings, something that did not happen until late Monday night. The Government of Baghdad also announced a ban on circulation to citizens on Monday night.
“Our diplomacy has lost its prestige. We did not manage to prevent the referendum”, Turkish columnist says
Turkey has so far not made a meaningful step in terms of sanctions, but officials’ announcements on the Kurdish decision are strong. In Ankara there is nervousness as it became apparent that despite the pressure they have failed to prevent the referendum. “The truth is that despite our yelling we did not achieve a result and we lost our prestige. What’s left is to get ready for the period after September 25. Because the new era brings the need for new policies, says the experienced political analyst of the newspaper “Hurriyet”, Abdulkadir Selvi.
Erdogan threatens to close the tap and banned the broadcast of a television network
The first decision taken against the Kurds was by Turkey’s Broadcasting Council and it was decided to forbid the broadcast of the Kurdish television network Rudaw from the Turkish Turksat satellite. This move won’t have much of an impact though as this particular television network also emits its signal from other satellites.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after expressing his opposition to the Kurdish referendum, threatened them with financial sanctions. No decision on independence can be accepted. The area is not the survival space of one person. Let’s see now where the administration of northern Iraq will sell its oil. “The tap is in our hands”, he stated characteristically. Mosul and Kirkuk’s oil end up in Turkey’s Ceyhan port via the pipeline that runs through Turkey’s territory.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that if the Turkmen in the region are threatened Turkey will intervene directly militarily. He stressed that Ankara cuts off all training for Kurdish Pesmerga fighters.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the Turkish government is considering imposing various sanctions in response to a referendum on the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan, but he did not speak of military actions, in spite of the ongoing exercises by the Turkish army at the border.
“Before it is too late, we will take measures in terms of airspace and border management”, he said and stressed that he now considers the Government of Baghdad to be the only legitimate interlocutor, and not Arbil. Until recently, Ankara’s main interlocutor was the president of the Kurds of northern Iraq, Masout Barzani.
Northern Iraq one of Turkey’s main strategic trade partners
Early on Monday morning the Turkish media reported news that the border with northern Iraq had been closed, something which was later refuted by the Ministry of Finance. There are simply delays in customs clearance. It is not an easy decision to close the border as Iraq is Turkey’s third largest trading partner after Germany and Great Britain. Turkey’s exports exceed USD 7.2 billion, with most products being bought by Kurds of northern Iraq. In the event of a closure of the main road from Habour, exports to the rest of Iraq will also suffer.
Iran issues a more dynamic responce
However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Behram Kasimi said Tehran closed its borders with Arbil. We support the unity of Iraq. Following Baghdad’s request, we close our borders and our airspace to the administration of northern Iraq said.
In a telephone conversation last night with Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Al Abadi, Iranian President Hasan Rohani reasserted his support to Baghdad.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran fully supports the central Iraqi government”, Rohanny said, underlining Tehran’s opposition to any action contrary to the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Erdogan waits for Putin
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani spoke by phone on the issue of the referendum and expressed concern that “it would cause chaos in the region”. At the same time, the Turkish president also spoke on the phone with Vladimir Putin. The two leaders in their conversation stressed the necessity of Iraq’s unity, the Turkish Presidency announced. The Russian president will visit Ankara on Thursday to discuss with his Turkish counterpart the developments in Syria, Iraq and the sale of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems in Turkey.
The country that supports the Kurdish effort for independence is Israel, and Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that it is the right of the Kurds to hold the referendum.
We must support Kurdistan against extremism
“Supporting the Kurds is not just a right decision, it’s also a smart policy. With their state the Kurds can become the most trustworthy and powerful allies against extremism… Kurdistan’s territory can provide important work against Iran and the Islamic State”, former Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, writes in an article for the New York Times./IBNA