Hezbollah says Kurdish vote a step towards wider Mideast partition

April FrancisOct 02, 2017

A senior Iranian military commander says Iran and Iraq will hold joint military exercises along their border with the Kurdistan region in the coming days in line with Tehran's policy to support Baghdad's central government, after the recent independence referendum in the semi-autonomous region.

The announcement on Saturday came amid rising tensions in the wake of a controversial secession referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region, where nearly 93 percent of voters backed a split from Baghdad.

"It demonstrates the continued legal and humanitarian violations against the people of Kurdistan, under the pretext of enforcing Iraqi federal authority", Kurdistan government spokesman Safeen Dizayee said, as quoted in the statement.

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence in a referendum on Monday, which Mr. Ali said obliges Mr. Barzani to negotiate independence from the rest of Iraq.

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

Iran also closed its borders and stopped flights to Iraqi Kurdistan airports.

The Iraqi military is making preparations Saturday to move in and control Kurdish borders, following a successful independence referendum to make Kurdistan a separate country.

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Salem Munji, a Turkish national who works at a construction company, told EFE that Turkey's government warned its citizens to leave northern Iraq out of fear of escalation.

The US does not recognise the independence referendum and urges an end to "threats of reciprocal actions", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Military tensions are running high; after the vote, the Iraqi parliament asked Abadi to send troops to Kirkuk, a disputed oil-rich city under KRG control that is only 50% Kurdish.

Yildirim stated that that KRG authority in Erbil had made a grave mistake by lighting "the fire of separation", warning that this would fuel problems in the region, which has been suffering from Daesh and PKK terrorism as well as various Iraqi insurgents and occupations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday rejected claims from Turkey that Mossad intervened in the 25 September Kurdish referendum vote.

Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said, "Any measure taken by the government will take into account the interests of the Kurdish people".

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