Erdoğan threatens to cut off oil flow from northern Iraq over independence referendum

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President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the international meeting on ombudsman institutions, in Istanbul, Turkey on September 25, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday threatened the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with cutting off the oil flow from the region over its independence referendum.

Speaking during the International Ombudsman Conference in İstanbul on Monday, Erdoğan said the referendum was unacceptable and added that Ankara would take economic, trade and security countermeasures.

Underlining that the northern Iraq administration can only sell its oil via Turkey, Erdoğan said: “We have the tap. The moment we close the tap, it’s over.”

“There are several measures on the table. … We will see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil and where they will sell it,” he added.

Speaking during an interview with NTV, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also said Turkey is determined to take action if its national security is threatened.

We will not enter into an adventure unexpectedly in any way, but if there is a position that will harm the interests of our country, then we will respond without delay,” Yıldırım said.

We will from now on consider only the central government in Baghdad as a legitimate interlocutor, not the KRG based in Arbil,” he added.

Despite warnings from the Baghdad administration and abroad, including from Ankara and Washington, the KRG held a referendum on Monday for a separate Kurdistan state in northern Iraq.

Erdoğan said the Turkish armed forces could suddenly launch an operation one night in the region.

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

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