First Published: 2017-09-14

Turkey refuses to budge on ‘erroneous’ Iraqi Kurdish vote
Ankara says possible independence referendum for Iraqi Kurds will ‘have a cost’, welcoming Baghdad’s vote against planned poll.
Middle East Online

Ankara has for three decades battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party

ANKARA - Turkey on Thursday warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders that a planned independence referendum this month would "have a cost", as Ankara refused to budge in its opposition to the poll.

The non-binding poll set for September 25 faces strong opposition from Turkey as well as from Iran, which fear it will stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.

Iraq's parliament on Tuesday voted down the plan in a session that prompted a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers.

The Turkish foreign ministry warned in a statement that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders' call for a referendum was "worrying".

The Iraqi Kurdish government's "insistence... despite all friendly advice will definitely have a cost", the ministry said, advising it to turn back from an "erroneous approach."

The ministry said it welcomed the decision made by the Iraqi parliament, adding that its vote was a "clear indicator of importance attached to Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity".

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin urged the Iraqi Kurdish government to "return from this wrong decision as soon as possible."

He warned the move would push Iraqi Kurdistan into "bigger isolation."

Kalin said there was no other country, or international organisation "other than Israel" that backed the referendum bid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday backed Kurds' aspirations for a state of their own, without specifically referring to northern Iraq.

"While Israel rejects terror in any form, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own," a statement from Israeli prime minister's office said.

Israel's apparent support for the referendum has been roundly condemned in pro-government Turkish media.

Kurds, a people with a separate language and distinct culture from Arabs and Turks, live in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey has the largest proportion of ethnic Kurds, who make up around a quarter of its population of 80 million.

Turkey -- which for over three decades has battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in its southeast -- is strictly opposed to any move to a Kurdish state anywhere in the region.

Ankara is also deeply troubled by aspirations of some Kurds in Syria for an autonomous region on its border and considers the Syrian Kurdish Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) to be a terror group.

Kalin on Thursday said: "There will absolutely be consequences for this referendum decision," without elaborating further.

Critics of the vote, including the United States and the European Union and even some members of Iraq's 5.5 million-strong Kurdish minority, say it could distract from the fight against Islamic State jihadists.


Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria