Turkey to consider sanctions over Kurdish referendum

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While the Iraqi central government, Iraq's neighbours, the United States and many other players have asked the head of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani to withdraw from his destabilizing decision on holding independence referendum, he insists on his decision and says they will go ahead with it on September 25 despite all these concerns.

The Kurdish authorities want to hold the vote on September 25, despite opposition from the central government in Baghdad and the region's non-Kurdish population.

Authorities in Iraq's Kurdish region have announced that the northern territory will hold the independence referendum on September 25.

However, al-Abadi said such negotiations would likely be complicated by the referendum vote. Nearly all United Nations member states oppose the referendum in the oil-rich region, including the USA and Iran. A "yes" vote doesn't necessarily mean that Iraqi Kurdistan would immediately break away from Iraq.

He emphasized that the legitimacy of Iran's border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan region hinged upon the fact that the Kurdish areas were part of an undivided Iraq, adding that the Islamic Republic would shut all border crossings and terminate military and security agreements if the semi-autonomous region secedes from Iraq.

Iraq's top court has temporarily suspended the vote, and the country's parliament has also voted to reject it. Such opposition is largely driven by fears that a "yes" vote in the referendum, which is nearly certain, would enhance the nationalist aspirations of Kurds living in other countries and further destabilise the region. "We don't want to impose sanctions", he continued, "but, if we arrive at that point, there are steps that have been already planned that Turkey can take". On the other hand, the referendum introduces a variety of regional issues that could move oil prices depending on how they play out. However, based on stated Turkish policies, Ankara will oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan.

The non-Arab Kurds - more than 25 million people spread across Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria - have long sought a state of their own.

Iran has also expressed a dim view of the slated referendum.

"In the meeting, the three ministers emphasised that the referendum will not be beneficial for the Kurds and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and agreed, in this regard, to consider taking counter-measures in coordination", the statement said.

Israel and Russian Federation have been supportive of Kurdish plans to hold the referendum.

It also urged the concerned leaders not to rush to take any unilateral positions that would further complicate the regional situation, and work according to the interests of the parties and achieve the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

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