Ever since 2005, autonomous Kurdish authorities have controlled much of the transport infrastructure in parts of northern Iraq. This includes the Erbil International Airport which was renovated by Turkey in 2010.
The Kurdish authorities have exercised control in granting visas to travellers as well as acting as a large transport hub for much of Iraq. The runway at Erbil International Airport is among the largest in the world.
However, due to Turkey and Iran closing the airspace over the region in an effective no-fly zone, one which is supported by Baghdad, traffic has ground to a halt.
Today, the Iraqi government handed an ultimatum to the secessionist leaders in Erbil demanding that they transfer all airports and transport hubs back to the central government in Baghdad.
Thus far, the referendum in which Kurds voted to secede from Iraq has had the effect of making the region far less autonomous.
Iraq is currently conducting military drills with the Turkish Army just north of the Iraqi border. Meanwhile, President Erdogan of Turkey has issued stern warnings to the secessionists to roll back their planned drive for ‘independence’. Erdogan has also slammed Israel for being the only country in the world to come out in favour of Kurdish separatism, telling Kurds, “Israeli flags won’t save you”, from the planned Turkish embargo against the region.
Far from creating a Kurdish state, the referendum has already ended many of the autonomous privileges granted to Kurdish regions by Baghdad.