UN Security Council Warns Iraqi Kurds Against Referendum

Posted September 24, 2017

Turkey's parliament voted on Saturday to extend by a year a mandate authorising the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria, stepping up pressure against an independence referendum in northern Iraq's Kurdish region in two days' time.

Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighbouring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir broader regional ethnic and sectarian conflict.

A Turkish deputy prime minister warned that the Turkish government had agreed a plan of action in case Kurdish leaders in Iraq press ahead with a controversial independence referendum.

Speaking to reporters outside his hotel, Erdogan said Turkey's national security council and cabinet would discuss potential sanctions on northern Iraq when they meet on Friday.

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In return, the referendum would be postponed until the end of the negotiations.

The statement released after the meeting at the General Staff headquarters said the generals discussed the KRG referendum and other developments which are threatening the stability in the region.

The country has the largest Kurdish population in the region and is already battling a Kurdish insurgency.

The most hotly contested area is Kirkuk, where Baghdad lays claim to the oil-rich province.

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In New York, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday demanded that Iraqi Kurds call off the referendum, while hinting at consequences if they go ahead.

The three ministers also voiced their "strong commitment" to maintain Iraq's territorial and political unity.

Ozturk Yilmaz, the deputy chair of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also announced that his party would support the motion.

The comments follow a warning from the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that the vote could have a "potentially destabilizing" impact on the region. Among other things, the referendum could jeopardize Kurdish trade relations in the region.

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Iraq's chief of staff General Othman al-Ghanimi arrived in Ankara earlier 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.