Israel denies involvement in Iraqi Kurdistan referendum

Tuesday, 03 Oct, 2017

More economic sanctions on Iraq's Kurdish region are expected in retaliation for last week's seccession referendum. Both countries see the referendum as having transformed the Kurdish aspiration for statehood in Iraq from problem to be managed to a mounting crisis on their borders.

Commenting on the results of last month's independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan during an interview with Sputnik, Hossein Sheikholislam, an advisor to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, pointed the finger at Israel, which he claimed initiated the referendum.

Jazayeri emphasized that participants at the meeting once again stressed the importance of safeguarding Iraq's territorial integrity and voiced their opposition to the "illegal" referendum held in the northern Kurdistan region.

Turkish president underlined that that Turkey is in close contact with neighboring states, including Iran and the Iraqi central government, and ready for negative developments in the region.

The Iranian military on its website announced joint military exercises with units of the Iraqi army involving armour and artillery units as well as drones and other aviation.

Iraqi officials speaking to AP said they will take control of Kurdistan Region's worldwide frontiers by setting up border control points just outside Kurdish-controlled areas in Iran and Turkey. The Kurdistan Autonomous Region is landlocked, and Turkey is its main trading partner (about $10 billion of cross-border traffic a year).

Hezbollah fighters are now fighting along with other Iran-backed militias and the Syrian army against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in eastern Syria.

Iraqi Kurdish transport minister Mawlud Bawa Murad told AFP at Arbil airport that the ban would "negatively impact all worldwide businesses in the Kurdistan region, in addition to all civilians, from all nations".

"Pakistan joins Iraq and its neighbors, along with the global community, in its opposition to this referendum", the spokesperson added.

"We, as Turkey, have given the biggest support to the IKRG since the first intervention in the country".

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said on Saturday that his government is committed to maintaining Iraq's unity and that of all its people, including Kurds.

"This shows one thing - that this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad; they are hand-in-hand together", he said.

Domestic flights will still service Baghdad's worldwide airport, but Jane says that "without Iraqi visas ... foreign workers aren't normally able to transit through Baghdad so there could be a scramble to leave before Friday".

He said Pakistan reaffirm full support for the Government and people of Iraq.

Baghdad ordered the halt to all foreign flights to and from the Kurdish region from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) Friday. From September 29, global air service with airports in Iraqi Kurdistan has been stopped.

"After 6 pm there will be no more global flights, just internal flights", he said.

Arbil is a key gateway for humanitarian aid workers helping Iraqis affected by the battle against the Islamic State group (IS).

Kurdish leaders have said the impetus for holding the vote was that it would provide a mandate for entering into talks with Iraqi officials about secession.