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Turkey threatens to close Kurdish oil pipeline in response to referendum

People take to the streets after the Kurdish referendum in Erbil, Iraq on 25 September 2017 [Hamit Hüseyin/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to close the Kurdish oil pipeline and prevent the Kurdish region from exporting its oil in response to a referendum to separate from Iraq, news agencies reported yesterday.

According to Bloomberg, the Kurdish region can ship as many as 700,000 barrels of oil a day through the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.

Bloomberg said that Erdogan’s comments were a reminder to the Kurdish region that it depends on good relations with neighbouring Turkey, which opposes the referendum, for most of their oil sales and revenue.

“Let’s see where the regional government will flow its oil, through which channels and where it will sell it,” Erdogan said in Istanbul yesterday.

Turkey, which is both a customer and a conduit for Kurdish oil, is ready to intervene as it did in Syria, he said, referring to a cross-border military operation last year. “We may arrive one night, suddenly,” he added.

Read more: UN chief concerned over Kurdish referendum

Meanwhile, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that his country is to deal only with Baghdad regarding the border crossings and oil trade in response to the referendum.

Speaking to local Turkish TV, he said that his country is to cooperate with the central government of Baghdad to make sure Kirkuk and other areas not attached to the region are excluded from the referendum.

He stressed that Turkey is to start military drills with Iraqi troops on the border with Iraq.

Around 5 million residents of the Iraqi Kurdish region turned to the ballot boxes to vote for separation from Iraq. News reports said that the turnout rate was 72 per cent.

Baghdad refuses to accept the referendum and said it is against the terms of the Iraqi constitution approved in 2005, adding that it is against the political, economic and national interests of the Kurds.

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