Iraq’s central authorities in Baghdad ordered the nation’s Kurdish area handy over all border crossings and airports to federal authorities management late Sunday night time, hours earlier than the area is about to hold out a controversial referendum on help for independence.
The referendum is about to be held Monday within the three provinces that make up the Kurdistan area in addition to dozens of cities and villages which are disputed, claimed by each Baghdad and the nation’s Kurds, together with the oil-wealthy metropolis of Kirkuk.
The Iraqi authorities “requests neighboring counties and the nations of the world to cope with the Iraqi federal authorities solely (as regards to) ports and oil,” learn a press release from the prime minister’s nationwide safety council launched Sunday night time.
Earlier Sunday, the Kurdish area’s president Masoud Barzani pledged the vote can be held regardless of strain from Baghdad and the worldwide group. He stated that whereas the referendum would be the first step in an extended course of to barter independence, the area’s “partnership” with the Iraqi central authorities in Baghdad is over.
Barzani detailed the abuses Iraq’s Kurds have confronted by Iraqi forces, together with killings by the hands of former chief Saddam Hussein’s military that left greater than 50,000 Kurds lifeless.
“Solely by means of independence can we safe a future the place we won’t have the previous atrocities,” he stated.
Strain from Baghdad and the worldwide group to name off the referendum has mounted over the previous week.
In an handle on state tv Sunday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi repeated his name for the vote to be canceled.
“The map of Iraq is struggling makes an attempt at division and tearing up of a united Iraq. Discrimination between Iraqi residents on the nationalist and ethnic basis exposes Iraq to risks recognized solely by God,” al-Abadi stated from Baghdad. Baghdad, the USA and the United Nations have all voiced robust opposition to the vote, warning it might additional destabilize the area as Iraqi and Kurdish forces proceed to battle the Islamic State group.
Turkey renewed a invoice on Saturday permitting the army to intervene in Iraq and Syria if confronted with nationwide safety threats, a transfer seen as a ultimate warning to Iraqi Kurds.
Additionally Sunday, Iran closed its airspace to flights taking off from Iraq’s Kurdish area following a request from Baghdad. Iran’s highly effective Revolutionary Guard additionally launched a army train in its northwestern Kurdish area, in an indication of Tehran’s considerations over the vote.
On the Irbil press convention, Barzani stated he was unaware that Iran had closed its airspace, however that it was Iran’s “personal determination.” The chief additionally confirmed that there had been shelling alongside Iran’s border with the Kurdish area.
Barzani addressed considerations that Turkey would shut its border with the Kurdish area following the vote, saying he hoped Turkey would go away the crossing open.
“There can be no profit for both aspect,” he stated of potential border closures.
Regardless of fears in disputed territories — Iraqi territory claimed by each the Kurds and Baghdad — Barzani stated he did not anticipate violence to comply with the vote, explaining that Iraq’s army and the Kurdish fighters generally known as the peshmerga have “good coordination within the struggle towards terror.”
The peshmerga forces have been instructed not to answer “provocations,” in Kirkuk, Barzani added.
Related Press author Susannah George in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.