News ID: 201022
Published: 0300 GMT September 22, 2017

Turkey, Iran, Iraq consider countermeasures over Kurdish referendum

Turkey, Iran, Iraq consider countermeasures over Kurdish referendum
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (C) and their Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim Jaafari pose for a photo in New York.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq agreed to consider countermeasures against Kurdish northern Iraq over a planned independence referendum, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the three countries voiced concerns that the referendum would endanger the gains Iraq has made against Daesh, and reiterated their fears over the potential for new conflicts in the region, Reuters reported.

“In the meeting, the three ministers emphasized that the referendum will not be beneficial for the Kurds and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and agreed, in this regard, to consider taking countermeasures in coordination,” the statement said.

The statement said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and their Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim Jaafari, expressed concern that conflicts surfacing as a result of the referendum would “prove difficult to contain.”

The statement gave no details on the possible measures but said the ministers, who were in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, called on the international community to intervene.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to impose sanctions against Kurdish northern Iraq. Turkish troops are also carrying out military exercises near the border.

The central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers fear the vote could divide the country and spark a wider regional conflict, after Arabs and Kurds cooperated to dislodge Daesh terrorists from its stronghold in Mosul.

The three ministers also voiced their “strong commitment” to maintain Iraq’s territorial and political unity, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s statement said.

Turkey, which has pulled a cabinet meeting and National Security Council session forward to Friday over the referendum, will also convene Parliament for an extraordinary meeting on Saturday, the chairman of the ruling AK Party’s parliamentary group said on Thursday.

Authorities in Iraq’s Kurdish region have announced that the northern territory will hold the independence referendum on September 25.

On Monday, Iraq’s top court ordered the suspension of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence.

The Supreme Court’s ruling calls for all preparations for the planned vote to be halted, following a review of multiple “requests to stop the referendum.”


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