Today, Iraqi Kurds will vote in a long awaited and widely condemned separatism referendum that is being boycotting by Arabs and Turkomen.
The referendum which has been condemned by all regional powers except for Israel as well as condemned by the UN, US, China and Russia, has already caused both Iran and Turkey to effectively shut down Iraqi airspace for all commercial flights over the region.
Today, both Iran and Turkey have been conducting large scale live-fire military drills in their respective regions bordering parts of Iraq unilaterally claimed by Kurds.
The no-fly zone over the area which will be policed by Iran and Turkey has been coordinated with the Iraqi government.
According to Keyvan Khosravi, the press secretary of Iran’s supreme national security conucil
“All the flights from Iran to Sulaimania and Erbil airports, as well as flights through our country’s airspace to the Kurdish regions have been suspended under a request from the central Iraqi government”.
Minutes ago, Turkey’s President Erdogan stated that he will use “all options” and take “necessary steps”. to safeguard Turkish security in Syria and Iraq. This is widely taken to mean that in respect of Iraq, Turkish troops may fully cross the border into Kurdish claimed territory.
Erdogan has also threatened to cut of oil flow from northern Iraq, saying,
“After this, let’s see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil, or where it will sell it,. We have the tap. The moment we close the tap, then it’s done”.
It looks increasingly likely that Turkey is preparing a full scale military intervention into the region, as I predicted in a recent piece in The Duran.