Vastavam web: Turkey threatened potentially crippling restrictions on oil trading with Iraqi Kurds on Thursday 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 on Monday 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.
Most oil that flows through a pipeline from Iraq to Turkey comes from Kurdish sources and a cut-off would severely damage the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which relies on sales of crude for almost all its hard currency revenues.So far the oil pipeline is operating normally despite Turkish threats to impose economic sanctions on the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq. Turkish officials, however, ramped up pressure on the Kurds on Thursday.
Yildirim also said he agreed with Abadi to coordinate economic and trade relations with the central government in Baghdad. He said Turkey, Iran and Iraq may meet to discuss the referendum.Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said Turkish armed forces would stop training Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, which protected oil fields from capture by the Islamic State.They also say that three quarters of the trucks that cross the Turkish border are heading to territory controlled by Baghdad rather than to the Kurdish region, so the Turkish and Iraqi economies would suffer from any blockade.
But travel to the Kurdish region will become harder if airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniya are closed to international flights.Kurdish officials say that Abadi’s tough response to the referendum vindicates Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani‘s decision to hold the referendum because they believe Baghdad will not cooperate under any circumstances.The officials feel that if Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the United States and the world line up against them, and the Kurds cannot see an end to their hardship, Barzani could come under pressure at home to declare independence.There were expectations that the United States, which said it would not recognise the vote, could use its ties to the Iraqi Kurds to persuade Barzani to cancel the referendum in exchange for a guarantee of talks with Baghdad.
The U.S. bid to stop the referendum failed, experts said, in part because the aging Barzani sees fulfilling aspirations for an independent Kurdish state as his legacy.Baghdad also demanded that foreign governments close their diplomatic missions in the Kurdish capital Erbil.
Foreign airlines have begun cancelling flights to Kurdish airports after Iraq said international flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya would be suspended from Friday. Turkey told its citizens to leave northern Iraq before the ban came into force.