Turkey threatens military action over Iraqi-Kurdish independence referendum

Turkey threatens military action over Iraqi-Kurdish independence referendum
Turkey's prime minister has warned of a 'economic and security' response if Iraqi-Kurdistan goes ahead with its controversial vote on independence.
2 min read
23 September, 2017
Yildrim has vowed repercussions if Iraqi-Kurdistan goes ahead with the vote [Anadolu]

Turkey has threatened Iraqi-Kurdistan with "economic and security dimensions" if it goes ahead with its controversial referendum for independence.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hinted at possible military action by Ankara, as Iraqi-Kurdish President Massoud Barzani pledged to go ahead with the vote on Monday.

"The steps will be taken in close cooperation with Iraq, Iran and other neighbouring countries. These measures will have diplomatic, political, economic and security dimensions," the prime minister told reporters.

He said military action into Iraqi-Kurdistan would "naturally" be an option, but "it is a question of timing as to when the security, economic and political options will be applied".

"This will be determined by developing conditions," he added.

Turkey has said it opposes the Kurdistan Regional Government's non-binding independence vote on 25 September, and along with much of the world urged Erbil to cancel the poll.

Ankara fears the vote could have an impact on its own restless and sizeable Kurdish population in the south and east of the country.

Turkish parliament will hold an extraordinary session to discuss the extension of an existing mandate to use Turkish troops abroad in Syria and Iraq, which was approved in October 2014 and has been renewed every year.

It allows Turkey's military to intervene in its two southern neighbours - Syria and Iraq - against Kurdish militias and the Islamic State group.

Turkey launched a military drill featuring tanks close to the Iraqi border last week. It has also built up forces on the Syria border, with Turkish troops likely to enter Idlib province.

Iraq's Chief-of-Staff General Othman al-Ghanimi arrived in Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on the poll as well as the fight against terrorism, the state-run Anadolu news agency said, with visits to Iranian military leaders also expected.