By Meltem Bulur
Turkey on Monday announced it would regard the results of the Kurdish referendum being held in northern Iraq as “null and void”.
Turkey has voiced its opposition to the vote being held in areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) since the plan was unveiled in June.
The Foreign Ministry said that the National Security Council on Monday outlined the sanctions to be imposed on the Kurdish region in the event of a vote for independence, which were later agreed by the Cabinet.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: “The referendum… in the KRG, is null and void in terms of its consequences.
“We do not recognize this initiative, which lacks legal basis and legitimacy with regard to the international law and the Iraqi constitution.
“We are dismayed by this attempt, which is far from common sense, undertaken by the KRG leadership who insisted on holding the referendum despite all the warnings of Turkey and of the international community and thereby endangered the peace and stability not only of Iraq, but also that of the region.”
The non-binding referendum will see voters in KRG-held areas, including areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, vote on seceding from Iraq.
Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the U.S., and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG President Masoud Barzani has said a “Yes” win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.
The Foreign Ministry added: “Turkey has stressed on every occasion that the grave mistake committed by the KRG will have a price and within this framework has identified the sanctions that will be levied against the KRG in the National Security Council meeting, which was held on Sept. 22, 2017, and in the Council of Ministers meeting that followed.
“It is important that the international community and particularly the regional countries should maintain the consistent approach they displayed with regard to the referendum and should refrain from recognizing the consequences of this illegitimate endeavor.
“In the subsequent process, it is a fundamental necessity that the KRG leadership should restore common sense and should adopt a policy that serves the long-term peace and prosperity of the whole of the Iraqi people, rather than seeking short-term political interests and utopian aspirations.
“We stress one more time that we will take every measure that emanates from the international law and from the authority granted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, in the event that some radical elements and terrorists, which may seek to exploit the circumstances that will emerge following the referendum, attempt to carry out acts that target our national security.”
The ministry also extended a travel ban for Turkish citizens to Iraq’s Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces.