Flight ban on Iraqi Kurds starts over independence vote

01 October, 2017, 03:53 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Flight ban on Iraqi Kurds starts over independence vote

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdish region, is said to have warned that the Kurds may be forced to retaliate if the central government continues to aggressively respond to its referendum. "Will the worldwide community stand by and watch us be strangled?" he said.

Iran, Iraq and Turkey - three countries with large Kurdish populations - are imposing restrictions on Iraqi Kurds following the Kurdish independence referendum this week that passed with more than 92 percent of the vote.

"The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government's unilateral referendum held on Monday".

On Saturday, Abadi explained Baghdad's wish to better control all of Iraq's oil revenues.

Over 400 Kurdish travel and tourism companies are directly affected by the flight ban and 7,000 are jobs at risk in the sector, Erbil-based Rudaw TV said.

Wages, including those of Kurdish peshmerga fighters, were slashed after the end of those transfers, which were worth around $12 billion (10 billion euros) annually and made up 80 percent of the region's budget revenues.

The lawmakers asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to Kurdish-held Kirkuk to take control of its oil fields.

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It went on to say the people of Iraq should avoid "anything that might harm the national unity of Iraq's communities".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday the Iraqi Kurdish authorities would pay the price for an independence referendum which was widely opposed by foreign powers.

Iran and Turkey criticized the referendum amid fears it might strengthen separatist feelings in their own ethnic Kurdish minorities.

"Implementation of the central government's decision to take over the management of all border posts and airports run as planned in coordination with the relevant authorities and neighboring countries, there is no delay in the procedure", the Iraqi defense ministry said.

Millions of Iraqi Kurds were called to a referendum Monday to decide whether to break away from Baghdad or to remain part of Iraq.

Baghdad has said only domestic flights will be permitted from 18:00 (15:00 GMT) unless the Kurds hand over control of Irbil and Sulaimaniya airports.

The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the suspension of worldwide flights to Kurdistan would be maintained until the government of the autonomous region ceded control of the airports to Baghdad.

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