Erdogan vows to seal off northern Iraq in response to Kurdish independence vote

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Thursday that he plans to take additional steps following the Kurdish independence referendum. After already banning all flights to northern Iraq, Erdoğan said that Turkey plans to close its airspace and border crossings into the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

After he reiterated that he will not tolerate the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated Thursday that additional steps will be taken in response to last week’s independence referendum. Erdoğan said that Turkey plans not only to close its border with northern Iraq but also to shut down the airspace between his country and the Kurdish region.

“The flights to northern Iraq have already been suspended,” Erdoğan stated. “The airspace and border will also shut down soon.” The Turkish president added that the decision to hold an independence vote showed “absolute ungratefulness” by the Kurdish government in the region, which in the past had extensive commercial and political ties with Turkey.

“We are demanding that the Kurdish government learn a lesson from their mistakes and take the appropriate steps to compensate them,” he added.

Yesterday, Erdoğan and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that they will not allow the Kurds to create a state in northern Iraq. “The United States and other powers are planning to create a new State of Israel, the second Israel, in the Middle East,” stated Khamenei. “The vote of the Kurdish minority is an act of betrayal toward the entire region. Baghdad also needs to make serious decisions.”  

Khamenei made these statements after meeting with Erdoğan, who is currently in Tehran on an official visit. The two agreed that they need to stop the Kurds from gaining independence and accused Israel and the Mossad of meddling in the matter. Erdogan echoed Khamenei’s words and said that Ankara is considering its next steps regarding the issue. “We’ve already said that we will not recognize the referendum,” he said. “We took some steps along with Iran and the government in Iraq but there’s a need for additional firm moves.”

“There’s no state that recognizes the results [of the vote] except for Israel,” Erdogan added. “A referendum that takes place among those who side with the Mossad is illegitimate.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also commented on the vote, saying: “We want security and stability in the Middle East. This referendum is a plot, and Tehran and Ankara reject it. We will never accept changes regarding our borders.”



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