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Iraq to halt worldwide flights to Kurdistan Region


Although the Kurdish region in northern Iraq already has a considerable degree of autonomy from Baghdad, its voters this week endorsed a nonbinding resolution calling for independence by a margin of 92.7 percent.

Iraq's central government has demanded the annulment of the referendum, which resulted in a huge "yes" for independence.

The Turkish and Iranian militaries have also participated in joint exercises near their borders with the Kurdistan region in recent days.

They also "agreed on measures to establish border security and receive Iraqi forces that are to be stationed at border posts", Jazayeri said.

Abdul-Wahab Barzani, director of intelligence at the crossing point from the Kurdish region into Turkey, said Iraqi troops are in position on the Turkish side of the border.

Iran has ordered a fuel embargo on the Iraqi Kurdistan region, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

The issue of borders and territorial control would be a major source of contention if Iraqi Kurdistan made a decision to move forward with independence.


Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day flow through a pipeline in Turkey from northern Iraq, connecting the region to global oil markets.

Disputed areas between the Kurdish capital Erbil and Baghdad, mainly the oil-rich Kirkuk province, have turned into powder kegs that could go off any moment.

Kurdish leaders have said that would not automatically trigger a declaration of independence, but rather give them a mandate to start negotiations on secession with the central government in Baghdad and with neighbouring countries.

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in Monday's non-binding referendum, which has sent regional tensions soaring.

Urging both sides to find a calm end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions the head of USA diplomacy called on Iraqi Kurdish authorities to respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government.

"All global flights without exception to and from Arbil will stop from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Friday following a decision by the Iraqi cabinet and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi", Talar Faiq Salih told AFP on Thursday.

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

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