• Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:02 am

Baghdad piles pressure on Iraqi Kurds to reverse independence vote

  • Published at 07:28 pm September 28th, 2017
Baghdad piles pressure on Iraqi Kurds to reverse independence vote

Baghdad heaped pressure on Iraq's Kurds, demanding they cancel their overwhelming vote for independence while parliament urged the Iraqi central government to send troops to take control of vital oil fields held by Kurdish forces.

Stepping up efforts to isolate autonomous Kurdish-held northern Iraq, whose people endorsed secession in a referendum on Monday that angered neighbouring countries, Baghdad demanded that foreign governments close their diplomatic missions in the Kurdish capital Erbil.

Final results released on Wednesday showed nearly 93% in favour of independence, and 7.3% against. More than 3.3 million people, or 72% of eligible voters, took part in Monday's ballot, according to the electoral commission.

The referendum has stirred fears of a new regional conflict. An Iraqi armed forces delegation headed to neighbouring Iran to coordinate military efforts, apparently as part of retaliatory measures taken by the government in Baghdad following the vote.

Iran and Turkey also oppose any move towards Kurdish secession and their armies have started joint exercises near their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days. Iraq and Turkey have also held joint military drills.

Foreign airlines began suspending flights to Kurdish airports after the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said on Wednesday that international flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya would be suspended from 1500 GMT.

Kurdish authorities rejected Baghdad's demands that they should annul the referendum as a condition for dialogue and hand over control of their international airports.

On Wednesday evening, Kurdish Rudaw TV reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government had offered to hold talks with Baghdad about hosting Iraqi observers at Erbil and Sulaimaniya airports to help defuse the crisis.

Turkey, which has threatened to impose sanctions on the Kurds, said its border with northern Iraq remained open, although it may not remain so. The number of trucks passing through had however decreased.

 
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