Ankara, Baghdad, Irbil- Ankara and Baghdad escalated on Tuesday their coordinated measures in reaction to the referendum on independence held in northern Iraq, a move that is expected to tighten the noose on the Kurdistan Region.
The Turkish government hinted to enforcing sanctions it said would lead to “starvation” in the Kurdistan Region, and to block oil export. Ankara also opened the door wide to the possibility of military intervention in coordination with the government of Baghdad.
At the same time, Iraqi forces joined on Tuesday a military maneuver launched by the Turkish Army a week ago near the border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all options, from economic to air and land military measures, were on the table in response to the independence referendum.
In a speech at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan threatened to let Iraq’s Kurds “starve when Turkey will prevent their trucks from crossing the border,” hinting to close the Habur border crossing to the Kurdistan Region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also announced a possible assistance to Baghdad for protecting Iraq’s territorial integrity if such a request was made to Turkey.
The foreign minister said: “If Iraq appeals to Turkey with such a request, we will provide support to Iraq for protecting its territorial integrity.”
For its part, the Iraqi government rejected engaging in any talks with the Kurds following the referendum.
Tehran also condemned the vote on independence. “The Iraqi people won’t stand silent. Iran and Turkey and other regional countries won’t stand silent and will stand against this abhorrent deviation. The Muslim nations will not allow the creation of a second Israel,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iranian media outlets compared the Kurds’ desire to a homeland with the Zionist conspiracy that led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
In Irbil, the Kurdish Rudaw TV channel said an overwhelming majority, possibly over 90 percent, had voted “yes” to the referendum.