Rosneft to build gas pipeline in Iraqi Kurdistan for exports to Europe

Frederick Owens
September 20, 2017

The clashes erupted amid preparations for a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence set to take place next week.

The Kurdistan leadership has said they will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with global guarantees that agreements will be enforced. "If we can not become good partners within Iraq, then let us be great neighbors".

On Monday, Iraq's supreme court ordered the suspension of the referendum to examine claims it was unconstitutional. The court's move came in response to lawsuits challenging the planned vote.

Turkey also sees itself as protector of Iraq's ethnic Turkmen minority, with particular concern about Kirkuk where Kurds have extended their control since seizing the oil city when Islamic State overwhelmed Iraqi forces in 2014. The KRG is facing stiff worldwide opposition to the referendum, with Western European powers, the USA and United Nations all arguing that a referendum would distract the Iraqis and the Kurds from the fight against IS, which has not yet been completely dislodged from the region.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon echoed his remarks. "Security of Iraqi Turkmen means security of the Turkic world", he said.

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Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq on Tuesday, killing three militants, the military said, as part of a widening campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, known as Peshmerga, and in northern Syria, known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, have proven effective fighting forces on the ground against ISIS. In Iraq, where they make up an estimated 15% to 20% of the population of 37 million.

Turkey's prime minister is warning Kurds in Iraq and Syria against efforts to form "artificial" independent states that would threaten its security.

Ankara's national security council will meet on September 22 to discuss the country's official position on the referendum, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said it was a "mistake". "Dream sometimes becomes reality".

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