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Turkey’s National Security Council debates Iraqi Kurdistan referendum

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Turkey’s National Security Council debates Iraqi Kurdistan referendum

Supporters carry the Iraqi Kurdish flag

Today, Turkey’s National Security Council will meet to formulate its official response to the planned September 25 Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq’s Supreme Court ordered the vote to be postponed, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi threatened force if the aftermath turns violent. Nevertheless, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani says there is no turning back.

For Ankara, the concern is that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan could inspire further pushes for autonomy from within Turkey’s own Kurdish population. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has permitted military exercises on the Iraqi border and has threatened economic sanctions, which may include leveraging KRG dependence on oil exports through Turkey.

Calling for delay on the plebiscite, the US, UK and UN claim the timing distracts from anti-ISIS efforts. With its future in the balance, the KRG holds its breath as US and Turkish leaders meet at the UN today to discuss the fate of the autonomous region.

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