Turkey stops flights and threatens blockage of Kurdish Autonomous Region

Turkish soldiers patrol the road to Habur border gate near the Turkish-Iraq border in Silopi district, in Sirnak city, Turkey, 25 September 2017. The Kurdistan region is an autonomous region in northern Iraq since 1991, with an estimated population of 5.3 million people. The region share borders with Turkey, Iran, and Syria, all of which have large Kurdish minorities. On 25 September the Kurdistan region holds a referendum for independence and the creation of the state of Kurdistan amidst divided international support. EPA-EFE/SEDAT SUNA

Turkey stops flights and threatens blockage of Kurdish Autonomous Region


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Turkey’s customs minister Bülent Tüfenkci warned on Wednesday that closing the border with the Kurdish Regional Government in the North of Iraq is being considered.

On Friday Turkey will seize flights to Erbil, the region’s capital. The region is landlocked between Iran, Turkey, Syria, and the rest of Iraq.

93% of the population in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Northern Iraq voted in favour of secession and independence on Monday, September 25. Following Sunday’s referendum on secession, Turkey is increasing pressure on the Talabani administration to back down from its plans to declare independence.

Global energy prices surged on Tuesday as Turkey has also threatened to cut off oil exports from Northern Iraq, to the tune of 600,000 barrels/day.

But, oil exports, as well as a trade embargo, can significantly hurt the Turkish economy. Exports to the Kurdish Autonomous region reached $8,6bn in 2016, which makes aspirant state the third biggest market for Turkey.

Ankara says trade can continue with Iraq via Iran or the sea, but the final destination of most Turkish goods was the Kurdish region.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to run military drills along the border with the participation of Iraqi troops and has threatened a cross-border incursion.

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