by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Oct 5, 2017
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday he did not want an armed conflict with his country's Kurds, days after the autonomous Kurdistan region voted for independence in a referendum.
"We don't want armed confrontation, we don't want clashes but federal authority must prevail," he said after a meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
"Separatism is unacceptable," Abadi said, reiterating that the non-binding September 25 vote -- in which 92.7 percent of Iraqi Kurds backed independence -- was "illegal".
"Iraq belongs to all Iraqis," he said, appealing to Kurdish Peshmerga forces to work with the Iraqi army "as we have worked together against Daesh (the Islamic State group), to guarantee citizens' safety."
Macron voiced support for Kurds' rights while defending Iraq's territorial unity.
France has "always been sensitive to the situation of Kurds" but is also committed to stability in Iraq, Macron said, calling for dialogue between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan.
"France is ready to contribute actively to the UN's mediation efforts, if Iraqi authorities so wish," he said.
Erdogan says Turkey will 'soon' close borders with Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdish leaders went ahead with the September 25 poll on independence despite fierce objections from neighbouring countries including Iran and Turkey.
"Air space will be closed ... the border will also be shut soon," Erdogan said in a televised speech. "How will you (the Iraqi Kurds) have imports and exports then?" he added.
"The clock is ticking against them," said Erdogan.
In the wake of the non-binding poll, which was overwhelmingly won by the 'Yes' camp, Erdogan has repeatedly told Arbil the Habur border crossing would be closed but this has yet to happen.
Turkish carriers have already suspended their flights to Iraqi Kurdistan, although this was in line with an order from Baghdad rather than a reprisal from Ankara.
Turkey fears the vote will embolden its own sizeable Kurdish minority, and is eager to work with Iran and the central government in Baghdad to block it.
Erdogan's comments came a day after a key visit to Tehran where both countries presented a united front in their opposition to Iraqi Kurdish aspirations of independence.
He reaffirmed his belief that only Israel was in favour of Iraqi Kurdish independence. "They are not your friends," he said.
But some analysts argue Turkey will be wary of cutting off economic ties with Iraqi Kurdistan as this risks hurting the domestic Turkish economy.
Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has forged close ties with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, enjoying burgeoning trade ties and Arbil exporting the region's oil through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
Sulaimaniyah, Iraq (AFP) Oct 2, 2017
Iranian and Iraqi forces staged joint military exercises on Monday near the border with Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, a Kurdish official said, following tensions over the Kurds' independence vote. Iraqi Kurds voted 92.7 percent in favour of independence on September 25 in a non-binding referendum held in defiance of the central government, which quickly retaliated. Following the vo ... read more
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