Turkey, Iran promise sanctions over Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum

On Friday, Turkey's National Security Council warned northern Iraq against holding a referendum on independence would cause "grave results", and called the referendum to be completely cancelled.

Erdogan, who chaired back-to-back meetings of Turkey's cabinet and National Security Council on Friday to discuss the situation, was expected to attend Saturday's parliamentary session, which was expected to extend the Turkish troop deployment in the region. The Kurds have long accused Baghdad of withholding budget payments to the region, while Baghdad has opposed oil deals made by the Kurds without its consent.

"We have to ramp up our efforts to prevent the referendum and independence from happening", said Hadi al-Amiri, secretary general of the Badr Organization, an important wing of the multiparty Shiite al-Shaabi paramilitary force. The KRG, led by Massoud Barzani, plans to use the vote as a legitimate mandate to press for negotiations with Baghdad and neighboring countries to achieve independence.

Clarification to all.No referendum postponement.It is on time.

Iraq, Iran, and Turkey are all threatening "counter-measures" over the vote, though none are offering anything specific.

While Kurds rally across the country for independence, many recognize that violence is likely-and even inevitable - especially in areas like Kirkuk and numerous surrounding smaller villages with a Kurdish presence.

The Kurdish regions of northern Iraq have been largely free of control from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad since before the 2003 war which toppled the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.

"Voting "Yes" will allow officials to remain in power", he said.

"The importance of maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity and political unity was stressed once again", it said.

"It is impossible to avert those threats unless Turkey takes steps to remove those mistakes and threats actively on the field", said Turkey's Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Of course it is a referendum and not any constitutional amendment and involves around 4 million Kurds in Iraq to express their opinion on whether they would like to join the independent Kurd state. The United States and Iran and have also voiced opposition to the referendum saying it could destabilise the region and harm the fight against IS.

Responding to Mr Talabani's comments, Hoshyar Zebari, a former Iraqi deputy prime minister and current member of the Kurdish region's referendum council, reiterated that the vote would not be postponed.

  • Rogelio Becker