Iraqi Kurdistan’s push could spark ethnic war: Turkey’s Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), that the current push of the KRG could spark an “ethnic war” in northern Iraq.

“If Barzani and the Kurdish Regional Government do not go back on this mistake as soon as possible, they will go down in history with the shame of having dragged the region into an ethnic and sectarian war,” Erdogan said in a speech addressing academics at his palace in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Erdogan described the Kurdish referendum as “treason to our country,” since it had come at a time of warm relations between Ankara and Erbil, the capital of the KRG. The Turkish president also strongly urged Barzani to “give up on an adventure, which can only have a dark end.”

“Until the very last moment, we weren’t expecting Barzani to make such a mistake as holding the referendum; apparently we were wrong. This referendum decision, which has been taken without any consultation, is treachery,” the Turkish president said.

On Tuesday, Erdogan reiterated that Turkey, which fears the effects of the referendum on its large Kurdish population, would consider all options, including economic sanctions and military measures, regarding the KRG, warning the Iraqi Kurds that they would go hungry if Ankara decided to stop the flow of trucks and oil across its border with northern Iraq.

“All options are on the table right now and being discussed. You (the KRG) will be stuck from the moment we start implementing the sanctions,” said Erdogan in Ankara, warning, “It will be over when we close the oil taps, all (their) revenues will vanish and they will not be able to find food when our trucks stop going to northern Iraq.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Turkish president said only the Tel Aviv regime would recognize the Iraqi Kurdistan Region out of a united Iraq.

“Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel. You should know that the waving of Israeli flags there will not save you” from regional isolation, Erdogan said, referring to some Israeli flags waved by a number of people in the streets of Erbil during the celebrations last night.