Ankara, Baghdad and Irbil – In response to the Kurdish independence referendum scheduled for September 25 and the Syrian Kurds’ elections of bodies running local communities on September 22, Turkey sent on Monday field messages to both parties by deploying its forces at the border of the two countries.
Sources said that Ankara is deploying its forces and backing the Free Syrian Army to control Idlib and drive out Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham militants, which include factions similar to Fatah al-Sham, as a means to prevent the establishment of a “Kurdish corridor” from Syria’s Afreen to the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Commander of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Sipan Hamo at the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria on September 12 to discuss ways of fighting ISIS terrorists.
Alarming the Iraqi Kurds, the Turkish army launched on Monday several military maneuvers near the border with Iraq only a week ahead of the referendum on independence.
Meanwhile, political and judicial pressure were still being used to force the autonomous Kurdistan region to postpone the vote.
Iraq’s Supreme Court ordered on Monday the suspension of the independence referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, deeming it unconstitutional. However, Kurdish officials asserted they were not concerned by decisions issued from Baghdad.
Separately, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon arrived in Baghdad on Monday morning before heading in the afternoon to Kurdistan where he met with President Masoud Barzani in an attempt to convince him to annul the referendum and work with the United Nations on finding alternatives to it.
Also on Monday, Khabar Turk newspaper quoted high-ranking diplomatic sources as saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to discuss on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron a three-point joint initiative to resolve the ongoing disputes between Irbil and Baghdad.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings currently held in New York.