Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Iraq suspends global flights to Kurdistan after independence vote

Erdogan says new 'Lawrences of Arabia' will not succeed Deadline approaches for Iraq's Kurds to hand over control airports
Christy Curtis | 02 October, 2017, 00:11

The suspension came into force after Kurdistan refused to comply with the order to hand over control of the Erbil and Suleimaniya global airports to the Iraqi federal government, Efe reports.

Iran is one of the main exporters of fuel products to Kurdistan, IRIB said.

In 2014, after a dispute over oil exports, Baghdad suspended payments to the Kurdish region of 17 per cent of Iraq's national budget.

"The joint maneuver, [dubbed] Eqtedar (Strength), will be held by Iran's Armed Forces and units of the Iraqi army along the two countries' joint borders", Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday.

Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey all have sizable Kurdish populations and have had to deal for years with Kurdish restiveness and calls for autonomy.

He said the ban would exclude humanitarian and other "urgent" flights."The vote was a historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership", Al-Abadi said during a press conference in Baghdad. The Kurds have had some level of de facto independence since 1991.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron invited Iraqi prime minister Haider AI Abadi to Paris on Thursday, saying France wanted to "help Iraq to stop tensions from setting in" following the vote on Monday, which saw Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly support secession.

The Iraqi Defence Ministry said the implementation of central government decisions to take over management of all the border posts and airports was "going as planned in coordination with the relevant authorities and neighboring countries, and there is no delay in the procedures".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent troops and tanks to the border with the KRG earlier this week, where they have been joined for joint exercises with Iraqi soldiers. "They deny the constitutional rights of the Kurds", it said, while reiterating, however, that the KRG was "ready for dialogue to resolve problems" with Baghdad.

"The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq", Tillerson said in a statement. At the same time, he rejected any challenge to Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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