Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, October 2017
Kurdistan Referendum on Secession from Iraq Is Illegitimate, Opposed by Turkey, Iran, and the US
October 2, 2017
Iraqi PM presses case for Baghdad to receive Kurdistan oil
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday pressed the case for
the central government in Baghdad to receive the income from Kurdistan¯s
oilfields, saying the money would be used to pay Kurdish civil servants.
Erdogan says Iraqi Kurdish authorities "will pay price" for
Iran to remain Iraqi Kurdistan's friend despite referendum
Tillerson says Kurdish independence referendum is
Turkey's Erdogan says Iraqi Kurdish authorities "will pay price" for vote
October 1, 2017, ISTANBUL (Reuters) -
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Iraqi Kurdish authorities would pay the price for an independence referendum which was widely opposed by foreign powers.
Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in Monday’s referendum, defying neighboring countries which fear the vote could fuel Kurdish separatism within their own borders and lead to fresh conflict.
“They are not forming an independent state, they are opening a wound in the region to twist the knife in,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum.
Erdogan has built strong commercial ties with Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, which pump hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily through Turkey for export to world markets.
“We don’t regret what we did in the past. But since the conditions are changed and the Kurdish Regional Government, to which we provided all support, took steps against us, it would pay the price,” he said.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to impose economic sanction, effectively cutting their main access to international markets, and has held joint military exercises with Iraqi troops on the border.
However, after Erdogan said that Iraqi Kurds would go hungry if Ankara halted the cross-border flow of trucks and oil, it has said that any measures it took would not target civilians and instead focus on those who organized the referendum.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry said on Friday it plans to take control of the borders of the autonomous Kurdistan region in coordination with Iran and Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Bin Yildirim, speaking on Saturday, did not refer specifically to those plans, but said Ankara would no longer deal with Kurdish authorities in Erbil.
“From now on, our relationships with the region will be conducted with the central government, Baghdad,” he said. “As Iran, Iraq and Turkey, we work to ensure the games being played in the region will fail.”
Reporting by Dirimcan Barut; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Stephen Powell
Iran halts flights to Iraq's Kurdish region in retaliation for independence vote
Iran halted flights to and from Kurdish regions in northern Iraq on Sunday in retaliation to a plan by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hold a referendum on independence. It also started wargames at the Kurdish border.
The air embargo is the first concrete retaliatory measure against Monday’s Kurdish referendum which is rejected by the government in Baghdad and by Iraq’s powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey.
Iranian authorities stopped air traffic to the international airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, upon a request from Baghdad, Fars News Agency said.
Tehran and Ankara fear the spread of separatism to their own Kurds. Iran also supports Shi‘ite groups who have been ruling or holding key security and government positions in Iraq since the 2003 U.S-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein.
Turkey, meanwhile, said on Sunday its aircraft launched strikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq’s Gara region on Saturday after spotting militants preparing to attack Turkish military outposts on the border.
”Turkey will never ever tolerate any status change or any new formations on its southern borders,“ Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. ”The KRG will be primarily responsible for the probable developments after this referendum.
The KRG has resisted calls to delay the referendum by the United Nations, the United States and Britain who fear it could further destabilize the region.
The vote, expected to result in a comfortable “yes” to independence, is not binding and is meant to give the KRG a legitimate mandate to negotiate the secession of the autonomous region with Baghdad and the neighboring countries.
The KRG says the vote acknowledges the Kurds’ crucial contribution confronting Islamic State after it overwhelmed the Iraqi army in 2014 and seized control of a third of Iraq.
Iranian State broadcaster IRIB said military drills, part of annual events held in Iran to mark the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, were launched in the Oshnavieh border region.
The war games will include artillery, armored and airborne units, it said.
Clashes with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq are fairly common in the border area.
On Saturday, Turkish warplanes destroyed gun positions, caves and shelters used by PKK militants, a military statement from Ankara said. Turkey’s air force frequently carries out such air strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, where its commanders are based.
Turkey’s parliament voted on Saturday to extend by a year a mandate authorizing the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria.
The PKK launched an insurgency in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The U.S. embassy in Iraq cautioned its citizens that there may be unrest during a referendum, especially in territories disputed between the KRG and the central government like the multi-ethnic oil-rich region of Kirkuk.
Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south Kirkuk, security sources said.
The explosion happened in Daquq, a region bordering Islamic State-held areas, the sources said.
Islamic State’s “caliphate” effectively collapsed in July, when a U.S.-backed Iraqi offensive, in which the Peshmerga took part, captured their stronghold Mosul, in northern Iraq.
The group continues to control a pocket west of Kirkuk and a stretch alongside the Syrian border and inside Syria.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Daren Butler in Istanbul. Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Toby Chopra
Hezbollah says Kurdish vote a step toward wider Mideast partition
October 1, 2017, BEIRUT (Reuters) -
The powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Saturday that an Iraqi Kurdish independence vote marked a first step toward the partition of the Middle East, warning that this would lead to “internal wars” and must be opposed.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed group, said events in northern Iraq, where Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence on Monday, were a threat to the whole region and not just Iraq and neighboring states with Kurdish populations.
“It will open the door to partition, partition, partition,” Nasrallah said. He added that “partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God”.
Nasrallah noted that his group’s arch enemy Israel had come out in support of Kurdish statehood and described the referendum as part of a U.S.-Israeli plot to carve up the region.
The United States came out in opposition to the vote, along with major European states and neighboring countries Turkey and Iran. The government of Syria, where Kurdish groups have established autonomous regions, also opposed the referendum.
Nasrallah was speaking to supporters on the eve of Ashura, when Shi‘ites commemorate the slaying of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, at Kerbala in 680 AD.
Hezbollah, a political and military movement, is a major player in the Syrian conflict, where it has deployed thousands of fighters in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Hezbollah fighters are currently fighting along with other Iran-backed militias and the Syrian army against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.
“Daesh is at its end. It is a matter of time in Iraq and Syria,” Nasrallah said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
He said counter attacks mounted by Islamic State in eastern Syria in the last two days were expected as the group was besieged, adding that it was “incapable of recovering ground”.
Reporting by Laila Bassam and Tom Perry; Editing by Catherine Evans.
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