Erdogan says Turkey to consider sanctions over Kurdish independence vote: Anadolu

Sunday, 24 Sep, 2017

It comes despite increasing calls from Iraq's key allies, the United States, Iran and Turkey, for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to postpone the vote planned for Monday. Ankara wanted to prevent Kurds from expanding their territory in northern Syria.

Two days ahead of the planned September 25 referendum on Iraqi Kurdish independence, all eyes are on Irbil.

A statement issued after the meeting said Turkey reserved its rights originating from global conventions.

In areas disputed between Arbil and Baghdad, some have issued strong warnings against the vote.

"The referendum will take place on the day scheduled", the organising committee announced.

Zebari said delaying the vote for negotiations with Baghdad without also securing guarantees that it could then be held on a binding basis would amount to "political suicide for the Kurdish leadership and the Kurdish dream of independence. It will both evaluate this and put forth their own stance on what kind of sanctions we can impose, or if we will, but these will not be ordinary", Erdogan was quoted by Anadolu as saying.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Irbil on Friday, Masoud Barzani said the fight against the Islamic State in partnership with the Iraqi military will continue despite the vote.

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"The U.S approach, however, remains unclear regarding the upcoming referendum".

The Turkish parliament convened at 4pm for a debate and vote on extending a mandate that authorizes Turkish troop deployments to Iraq and Syria, and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim alluded to possible military moves.

Turkey has been engaged in a violent separatist battle with its Kurdish minority in the east of the country for more than 30 years. "Their sons and relatives were killed by the Baghdad government in the past and they think the referendum is one way to [take] revenge".

On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of neighbouring Turkey and Iran, which themselves have sizeable Kurdish minorities, agreed with their Iraqi counterpart that the referendum could divide Iraq and spark a wider regional conflict.

"The ministers reaffirmed their commitment regarding Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity" the statement said, adding that they welcomed Iraqi territory being liberated from Daesh terrorists.

After a late-night session by Turkey's National Security Council, Turkey's government called the plans for a vote "illegal and unacceptable".

"These elections are an important step in the history of Syria", senior Kurdish official Ilham Ahmed said.