Turkey Says Iraq Kurdish Referendum Can Lead to Civil War

Turkey Says Iraq Kurdish Referendum Can Lead to Civil War
Turkey Says Iraq Kurdish Referendum Can Lead to Civil War

Turkey says Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region should reverse its decision to hold a referendum on independence, warning that the vote could lead to a civil war.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that the referendum, slated for Sept. 25, would worsen the situation in a country “that is undergoing so many problems”, news outlets reported.

He told state-run TRT television: “God forbid, it could lead to civil war.”

Turkey - which has a large Kurdish population and is battling Kurdish rebels - has close ties with Iraq’s autonomous region but is strongly opposed to an independent Kurdish state.

Analysts have little doubt that the September 25 referendum would result in a ‘Yes’ for an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

But the result would be non binding and leave the approximately five million Kurds of northern Iraq some way away from actual independence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June strongly criticized the referendum plan, calling it “an error” and “a threat” to Iraq’s territorial integrity.

“The fundamental reason for our opposition to this referendum is the importance of preserving Iraq’s territorial and political integrity,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a radio interview Wednesday, denying any ill will towards the Kurds.

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak also had said the referendum would harm energy cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan Region, which pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day to Turkey’s Ceyhan export terminal.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region that depends heavily on its neighbors.

The Kurdistan Region’s political parties, not including Gorran Movement and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), came to an agreement on June 7 to hold a referendum on the region’s independence on September 25. The decision was slammed by Iraq, US, UK, EU, Russia, Germany, Turkey and Iran.


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