President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey would soon close its border with northern Iraq and shut its air space in response to after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) voted for independence.
Erdogan, who held talks in Tehran on Wednesday with Iranian leaders, also said Turkey would decide jointly with Iran and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad whether to cut oil exports from Kurdish northern Iraq.
His comments came 10 days after Kurds in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly for independence, alarming Baghdad, Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers who fear the vote could trigger further conflict in the Middle East.
Turkey tightened controls at its main border crossing into Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the vote and suspended flights to northern Iraq. It has also held joint military exercises with Iraqi troops on the border.
But it has not yet implemented threats to impose wider sanctions on the Kurdish region or to cut off the hundreds of thousands of barrels of Kurdish oil exported daily via Turkey to world markets.
“Flights to northern Iraq have already been suspended, the air space and borders will also close soon,” Erdogan said in a speech in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
He said the decision to hold the referendum showed the “perfect ingratitude” of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, after years of close commercial and political ties with Turkey.
Source: Reuters, HDN