After Iran, tomorrow Turkey will also suspend flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh. The few available places reach dizzying figures. Kurdish borders controlled by the Iraqi army and Iranian and Turkish soldiers. Syria promises autonomy to the Syrian Kurds.
Duhok (AsiaNews) Following the referendum on independence, Iraqi Kuridistan faces the growing threat of international isolation. Erbil authorities have just published official primary results: 92.73% of the voters said "yes" to the autonomous state, confirming forecast polls. While the Kurdish population celebrates the vote and President Massud Barzani relaunches dialogue with Baghdad, Turkish jets yesterday a "target" located in Iraqi Kurdistan, killing 13 alleged PAK members (The Kurdish Party of Workers, terrorist "according to Ankara). A first military retaliation, coupled with Erdogan's threats of economic suffocation.
Below is the report by our AsiaNews correspondent.
In the face of the increasingly pressing threats of an economic strangulation in Iraqi Kurdistan, hundreds of people took to the streets last night in Duhok to shout in Davud! Davlet! (State! State!) ". A bitter and insinuating criticism for Massoud Barzani, who has been a president of the Autonomous Region for 26 years without the mandate of the last two years, has meant that he did not want to declare independence despite the overwhelming victory of the Referendum on 25 September. As the winds of war blow from all sides, the Kurds challenge this fear with nationalist songs and fireworks. In addition to the Israeli flag now symbolized by foreign support to Kurdistan's independence, the yellow and white flag of the Holy See appeared for the first time. Along with it, other flags of sympathetic supporters for the Kurds including Japan and even a Turkish flag! Turkey is the first among the countries that have decided to punish Kurdistan for a referendum that Turkish President Erdogan has classified as "betrayal".
As time goes by, Kurdistan's sky gets darker and threatens to become a No-Fly-Zone for a second time but this time at will of the central government of Baghdad. The Iraqi parliament has legislated that, as the constitution says, all land and air borders must return to being under the control of the Customs of the United Iraqi government. Kurdistan has been given a three-day ultimatum to deliver the airports of Erbil and Suleymanieh, subject to the closure of all aerial activity. The ultimatum expires tomorrow at 6pm. Finding seats on flights ahead of the deadline has become difficult as the price of the vacant seats has soared dramatically.
Iran was among the first to bow to Baghdad. Even before the expiry of the ultimatum, Tehran stopped flights to and from Erbil and Suleymaniyeh. Yesterday afternoon, troops from the Iraqi and Iranian armies trained along the northwestern borders allowing Iraqi soldiers to remain in the Iranian part and take control of all entry and exit from Kurdistan. Tehran yesterday announced that it recognized only the Iraqi government as "the only border control authority" between Kurdistan and Iran. The same, without announcing it, as Turkey leaving the Iraqi soldiers who participated in the 26th joint exercises on the Iraqi Turkish border at the northern border. Ankara also announced that it will interrupt flights to and from Erbil and Suleymanieh starting at 6 pm tomorrow.
Now the intention of encircling Kurdistan at least economically for now and isolating it from the rest of the world is clear to everyone.
A week ago, Kurdistan was in a strong position to deal with Baghdad. After supporting the referendum, it is now in a weak position and, too late, is seeking to take timid steps back by allowing the presence of government observers at Erbil and Suleymaniyeh airports, while refusing to deliver them.
Turkey is threatening to close the oil pipeline through which Kurdistan exports its crude oil, almost to realize Erdogan's promise of "starving the Kurds". These "Turkish threats" have pushed Syria to exploit an unprecedented opportunity. Yesterday, Damascus announced that it was ready to recognize the autonomy of the Syrian Kurds when the war against Daesh ended. For observers, this move seems to be an invitation to Erbil to export at least the gas destined for Russians through the only remaining outlet, from Syria to the Mediterranean.