Baghdad takes steps against Irbil phone operators, civil workers involved in Sept 25 vote

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 09.10.2017 22:56

The Iraqi central government in Baghdad announced new sanctions on the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) yesterday as part measures in response to the independence referendum held on Sept. 25. The sanctions include launching a legal process against those responsible for the referendum and taking control over cellphone operating companies.The announcements came after Iraq's National Security Council convened yesterday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

A statement released after the meeting said that the names of civil workers were identified and that necessary legal steps have been taken.

In addition, the central government has demanded from Irbil-based cellphone operators to be monitored by Baghdad and relocate their headquarters to the Iraqi capital.

Abadi also asked Turkey and Iran to only deal with the central government in Baghdad and to halt all commercial ties with the KRG, including oil exports.

Ankara has claimed that KRG President Masoud Barzani is pushing the region into chaos due to personal ambitions and that once measures are intensified the KRG will have no way out, including closing airspace to flights to Iraqi Kurdistan and closing the border.

Meanwhile, a convergence has evolved between Ankara, Tehran and Baghdad following the Sept. 25 independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as disputed territories such as Kirkuk amid fears that the vote could lead to greater instability in the region and disrupt the war against Daesh.

The three countries warned Irbil to step back, and the Iraqi armed forces launched military drills both with Turkey and Iran near the KRG border.

On Sunday, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Irbil was ready to make an effort to re-establish ties with Turkey.

"It is not easy to solve the strained ties, however, we should make an effort to bring back them to the old level," Prime Minister Barzani told reporters in Irbil.

He added that Irbil was ready for dialogue with Baghdad, but it was not possible to take a step back from the results of the referendum.Baghdad and Irbil held their first official meeting on Saturday after the controversial independence referendum.

President Barzani's office said a delegation led by Barzani met with Iraqi Vice Presidents Osama al-Nujaifi and Iyad Allawi and a group of Iraqi lawmakers in Sulaymaniyah.

The Iraqi and Kurdish sides reportedly agreed to initiate meetings to ease tension, lift sanctions imposed on the KRG and immediately start dialogue between Irbil and Baghdad.

Speaking after the meeting, Nujaifi said he conveyed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's concerns over the KRG's independence plans to Barzani.

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