Iraq, Iran and Turkey put economic pressure to Iraqi Kurds in response to Kurdistan’s independence referendum, with Baghdad closing the Kurds’ airspace to international flights, Tehran freezing trade in fuels and Turkey threatening for further trade sanctions.
A day after Baghdad cut international air links with the region, Iran announced fuel trade ban between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iran’s state broadcaster said all transport companies and drivers have been ordered to stop carrying fuel products between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan “until further notice”. As it is known, diesel is one of Iran’s key exports to the oil-rich region, mainly for power plants and vehicles, while the Kurds rely almost exclusively on crude and fuel oil exports to raise revenues.
Tehran also announced a joint military exercise with Iraq in response to the referendum, in which strongly opposed, fearing it will provoke separatists among its own Kurdish minority.
“A joint military exercise between Iran’s armed forces and units from the Iraqi army will be held in the coming days along the shared border,” Iranian armed forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri told reporters in Tehran. The drills will take place at several crossings on Iran’s border with Iraqi Kurdistan, he said.
It is worthy to note that Iraq has also staged joint exercises inside Turkey. So, Iraq’s prime minister moved quickly trying to assure his country’s Kurds. “To our people in the Kurdistan region: we defend our Kurdish citizens as we defend all Iraqis and will not allow any attack on them,” Abadi tweeted in English.
But northern neighbour Turkey also strongly opposed the vote and Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he will impose further sanctions on northern Iraq over its independence referendum.
“We are managing with some embargoes in northern Iraq for now, but if they don’t come to their senses, this will continue increasingly,” Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling AK Party.
Fearing, like Iran, that it would inflame separatist aspirations within its own Kurdish population, Ankara has threatened measures including blocking lifeline oil exports from the region via Turkey.
Iran, Turkey boost military ties
Meanwhile, Turkey and Iran have agreed to boost military ties following the referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish and Iranian chiefs of staff of the armed forces held a meeting on Monday in Tehran and agreed to expand military cooperation between the two countries, local media reported.
In addition, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Iran, where a joint response to the recent independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan will be discussed. On October 4, Erdogan is expected to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in last week’s referendum. Μore than 90 percent of voters supported the idea of independence from Iraq.