16 January 2018
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  • » 12/29/2017, 10.05

    IRAQ

    Ban extended on international flights to Iraqi Kurdistan



    The Iraqi authorities have extended the ban until February 28th. Only internal connections still active. Central authorities want to keep pressure on the regional leadership. Kurdish Premier: "Collective punishment" imposed by Baghdad.

    Erbil (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iraqi authorities have extended the ban on international flights to the autonomous region of Kurdistan until February. The provision is part of the punitive measures - including the delay in payments for Public Administration employees - decided by Baghdad in response to September’s controversial independence vote, promoted and supported by leaders in Erbil.

    For months the central authorities have cut off air connections between Kurdistan and the outside world.

    The ban was imposed following  the independence referendum in the Northern Autonomous Region, which was held on 25 September and ended with an overwhelming victory (over 90%) for the yes vote. The vote triggered heavy clashes between Iraqi army and Kurdish militia (Peshmerga) broke out in the context of a rapid advanceof governmental militaries in territories - including Kirkuk – long  controlled by the Kurds. 

    The vote was also held in the controversial territory of Kirkuk. Baghdad said the referendum - which faced international opposition, except for Israel - was illegal. The Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako intervened  in a letter renewed the call for dialogue between the parties against the danger of "new conflicts”.

    The blockade of international flights is just one of the punitive measures adopted by Baghdad against Erbil, in an attempt to frustrate the outcome of the vote. The federal forces have also seized numerous oil wells, which represented a fundamental resource for the coffers of the autonomous region.

    Talar Faiq Saleh, director of Erbil International Airport, reports that the Baghdad Ministry of Transport has sent an official communication stating that "international flights are banned until 28 February". "Only internal domestic flights are authorized".

    The two months extension underpins the Iraqi government's aim to keep up the pressure on Kurdistan and strengthen the grip on the economy of the region, already tried by months of difficulty. The crisis situation has triggered a series of street protests in the main Kurdistan localities and, in particular, in the Sulaymaniyya governorate. The demonstrators stormed and set fire to several party sites.

    The Kurdish premier Nechirvan Barzani yesterday spoke out against what he called a "collective punishment imposed by the central government on all the people of Kurdistan". He criticised the central authorities in Baghdad for using the air blockade to exert "pressure" on the northern region in view of the negotiations between the two sides.

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    See also

    30/10/2017 14:05:00 IRAQ
    Chaldean patriarch: Christians fleeing the conflict between Kurds and Iraqis, fears of a new exodus

    Mar Sako denounces the new wave of violence that has hit "the towns of Nineveh." Many residents have fled and breathe a "renewed atmosphere of anxiety and fear". Kurdish President Barzani announces his retirement. And he charges Baghdad, Washington and internal opponents, guilty of treason. 



    20/10/2017 10:13:00 IRAQ
    Erbil and Baghdad propose tentative dialogue, crux of referendum

    The regional authorities open to talks with the central government according to Constitution and in a perspective of partnership. An Iraqi court orders the arrest of Kurdish President Kosrat Rasul. First frictions within political leadership in Erbil after the "cataclysm" that led to the loss of territories occupied after the US invasion.



    19/10/2017 09:03:00 IRAQ
    Chaldean Patriarch Appeal: People Before Oil, No More Conflict

    In a letter to the President of the Republic, Sako urges "cooperation" between Iraqi leaders. The goal is to create a "modern and strong civilian" nation, capable of initiating economic, social and cultural reforms. The Iraqi army  takes a large portion of Nineveh and Diyala from the Kurds. Fears for Teleskof and Alqosh.



    27/09/2017 10:32:00 IRAQ - IRAN - TURKEY
    Barzani: overwhelming victory of "yes" to referendum. Ankara and Tehran against Erbil

    Turnout of 78% out of a total of 5.3 million registered voters. Polls indicate 90% in favor but the official results are still awaited. Baghdad takes control of Kurdistan airports. Erdogan threatens to starve the Kurds and fuels fears of "ethnic conflict." Iran fears "political chaos" and the Kurdish-Israeli alliance. 



    09/04/2009 IRAQ – TURKEY – UNITED STATES
    Obama in the Mideast: Iraq as the best ally of the United States
    The objectives of the new US president are the same as those of his predecessor. More than Turkey Iraq could become the real stabilising factor in the region, on the condition however that the goals associated with security and economic development are met. Iran is the greatest challenge for peace.



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