Ankara labels Kurdistan referendum ‘illegitimate, unacceptable’

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Ari Khalidi Ari Khalidi |
Ankara labels Kurdistan referendum ‘illegitimate, unacceptable’
Turkey’s national security council convened under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sept 22, 2017, Ankara. (Photo: Turkish Presidency)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s top security council on Friday described Kurdistan Region’s upcoming referendum on secession from Iraq as a ‘direct national security threat.’

The board convened under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s stance that the Kurdish vote backed in the same hours by hundreds of thousands in an Erbil rally was “illegitimate and unacceptable.”

“This step is a grave mistake which, along with Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity, poses a threat to the peace, security, and stability of the region,” the council said, according to a statement on the presidential website.

Ankara urged Kurdistan Region’s authorities to cancel the referendum which has already kicked off online for the diaspora with the first vote being cast by a Kurd in China as the Turkish statement came out.

It said “serious consequences that would harm our entire region” were inevitable, without specifying as an army drill right on the border meant to discourage a determined Kurdish leadership from going on with the vote entered its fifth day.

“Turkey holds its exclusive rights arising from bilateral and international agreements,” it read but did not elaborate.

However, Erdogan’s government offered sponsorship to negotiate between Erbil and Iraqi authorities in Baghdad to solve their existing problems within a constitutional framework.

“A pluralistic structure consisting of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Ezidis, Chaldeans, Assyrians and other social groups can only be preserved on the basis of territorial integrity of the country,” it further read.

Before embarking on an official trip to New York earlier this week for the United Nations annual convention, Erdogan used a harsher language, implying military action and economic sanctions.

After the security council’s meeting, Turkish cabinet gathered at the time of publishing this report.

A separate but similar statement regarding the Kurdish aspirations is expected to come out.

On Saturday Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated Parliament is to vote in an extraordinary session a mandate that would allow the army to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq.

The move backed by the main and far-right Turkish opposition has been criticized by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Editing by Ava Homa