Iraq's Government Moves to Punish Iraqi Kurdistan for Vote


Iranian and Iraqi central government forces are to hold joint military exercises near their borders, Iran's state television reported on Saturday, as part of Tehran's effort to support Baghdad after the Kurdish independence referendum on Monday.

Iran and Turkey criticized the referendum amid fears it might strengthen separatist feelings in their own ethnic Kurdish minorities.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi has given the KRG until Friday to hand over control of its airports to the federal government.

It has since suspended all flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan and warned that all border agreements will be nullified, although border crossings are still open.

The Iraqi government on Friday suspended all global flights to and from the Kurdistan region, the BBC reported.

The United States does not recognize the independence referendum held this week in Iraqi Kurdistan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday.

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Pursuing a long-cherished dream of statehood, the Kurds went ahead with the referendum in defiance of widespread objections, including from the United Nations and United States.

Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said that Omar Mirani, representative of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government's President Masoud Barzani was asked not to come back to Turkey.

The United States is among several global players that have publicly opposed the Kurdish vote to secede from Iraq, with regional powerhouses Turkey and Iran saying they'll halt trade with the Kurdish region.

Turkey, which is home to the region's largest Kurdish population, is battling a three-decade Kurdish insurgency in its southeast, which borders northern Iraq.

"We also call on the Iraqi government and the political powers represented in parliament in all their decisions and steps to take into consideration the preservation of the constitutional rights of our Kurdish brothers", it added.

The issue of terrorism, the Kurdish independence vote and matters of mutual interest were among the major topics discussed in the Wednesday meeting between the military brass of Iran and Iraq.