Erdoğan says Turkey could suddenly launch operation against KRG

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and President of Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani (L) shake hands during their meeting at Mabeyn Palace in Istanbul, Turkey on February 26, 2017. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

Amid an ongoing crisis over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) decision to hold an independence referendum on Monday despite opposition from Turkey and the international community, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the Turkish armed forces could suddenly launch an operation one night in the region.

“No one else [except Israel] recognizes the northern Iraq regional government. And we are currently in a very different position with northern Iraq regional government. It is a must that it step back from this decision. It is a must. The federal government definitely does not recognize it, anyway. The council again does not accept it. Of course, in the same vein, we will not allow the founding of one or more than one terrorist state in Syria. They say that in northern Syria, the PYD [Democratic Union Party] and the YPG [People’s Protection Units] are going to build a state there. All of this is an empty dream for them,” Erdoğan said.

Arguing that Turkey will not recognize the referendum no matter the outcome, Erdoğan said it is an illegitimate initiative.

“We are taking all necessary political, economic, commercial and security measures. The armed forces in Silopi [Şırnak district] took the necessary steps there. There will be no compromise. Iran is in the same situation right now. Our air forces are waiting. Currently, only exits to Iraq are allowed. We will announce other measures during the week. Those steps will be taken as well. We will close border crossings,” added Erdoğan.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a press release describing the independence referendum as “null” and “void” and said that Turkey does not recognize the referendum, which lacks international legitimacy.

Claiming that the KRG had jeopardized stability and peace in the region by ignoring the warnings of Turkey and holding the referendum, the ministry said the KRG’s move will carry a price and that sanctions would be imposed on it.

The ministry also called on other countries in the region and the international community to  refrain from recognizing the referendum initiative.

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