ISTANBUL, Turkey –Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi are going to hold a meeting in the United States to discuss the Kurdish independence referendum, to be followed by a Turkish official response to the vote later this week.
President Erdogan said at a press conference before leaving Istanbul to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly that Iraq and Turkey are on the same page as it comes to the issue of the protection of the unity of Iraq.
Both countries have expressed in clear terms that they are opposed to Erbil’s plans to vote on whether to leave Iraq on September 25.
He said if the authorities in Kurdistan insist on separation, they will never allow it to happen. Erbil have said that they do not have any plans to postpone the vote.
He reiterated that Turkey’s National Security Council will meet on September 22 to announce their official stance, only three days before the vote.
Just last month, the Turkish president also met with Iran’s top military chief in Turkey expressing their concerns with regard to the vote saying that Kurdistan have to call off the vote.
Erdogan said they have sent the head of the Turkish intelligence (MIT) Hakan Fidan to Erbil so that they will advise the Kurdish leadership to call off the vote.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi threatened on Saturday to use force against Erbil if the Iraqi government deemed it necessary to keep the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Erdogan said that he and Abadi are on the same page — that the territorial integrity of Iraq should be preserved. He said the decision to call for the vote by Erbil is “very wrong.”
He added that he will also discuss the referendum with US President Donald Trump when they meet next week.
The White House stated on Friday they demand the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the vote and instead open dialogue with Baghdad to solve their outstanding issues, the UK also put out a similar statement but added that the talks should be “time limited” and be backed by the international community.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has not ruled out considering sanctions against the Kurdistan Region if the vote goes ahead.
Turkey is Kurdistan’s gate to the outside world as it comes to the export of oil to the international market, and is also the main exporter of goods and food to the Kurdistan Region. Erbil is almost entirely dependent on oil experts for its revenues.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani stated Saturday that it is surprising to him when he listens to Kurdistan’s neighbours, Iran and Turkey, which say that they care about Iraq’s unity and sovereignty.
“With regard to our neighbors, we want to have the best relations. We don’t want for any problem to occur between us and our neighbors,” Barzani told a rally in the province of Duhok on Saturday evening.
“It has been 25 years that we have proved that we are a factor for peace, prosperity, and coexistence. We are not a threat to anyone,” the Kurdish president continued.
“But one thing that is surprising to me is: I wish I knew since when have you become so worried about the territorial integrity of Iraq, the sovereignty of Iraq, and the constitution of Iraq?” Barzani asked rhetorically. “This is important to me since these days these [things] have become important to our neighbors.”