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Iraq's flight ban on Kurds goes into effect

30 September 2017

The Iraqi government has placed a ban on global flights to airports in the country's Kurdish area.

Neither will the ban apply to military or humanitarian flights, the director of the Kurdistan worldwide airport, Talar Faiq, told a press conference.

UAE-based Air Arabia and low-priced carrier FlyDubai said they would also suspend flights, while Doha-based Qatar Airways announced that it would comply with the civil aviation authority's ruling.

An extended suspension of flights would have significant consequences for the Kurds, who have turned Arbil into a regional transport hub that is home to a large worldwide community.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister and spokesperson Bekir Bozdag said his government would collaborate with the Iraqi administration on the matter.

Iraqi troops now in Turkey and Iran would start on Saturday morning to enforce control over the border crossings out of the Kurdish region, Iraqi officials told The Associated Press.

The Kurdistan government has said they were pushed to stage the independence referendum after the central government violated at least one third of the Iraqi constitution, including Article 140 that concerns the fate of the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as the oil-rich and multi-ethnic Kirkuk province.

More than 92% of the roughly 3 million people who went to the polls earlier this week opted for independence, according to official results announced by the Kurdish electoral commission on Wednesday.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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He cited, for instance, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of NY, who Wednesday praised the Kurdish independence vote.

The State Department said it was "deeply disappointed" the vote had gone ahead.

Turkey, which has threatened to impose sanctions on the Kurds, said its border with northern Iraq remained open, although it may not remain so.

In defiance of Baghdad, the self-ruled Kurdish region has been unilaterally exporting crude oil produced in their region and contested areas through Turkey.

He may be right, because one-fifth of Turkey's population is also Kurdish, and a lot of them live in the part of Turkey directly across the border from Iraqi Kurdistan.

In a statement, EgyptAir also said its flights would halt from Friday "until further notice". Though it's non-binding, it has inceased tensions between the Kurds and Baghdad as well as Turkey and Iran, both of which have a sizable Kurdish population.

Barzani said the vote would not lead to an immediate declaration of independence, instead opening the door to negotiations, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has rejected any talks on the basis on the referendum.

"The PKK in Turkey, a group that the world condemns as a terrorist organization, may ratchet up attempts to secede from the Turkish government and kill as many Turks in the process and then there is [PJAK] of course in Iran, which is a well-known and very radical terrorist organization", he said.

Iraq's flight ban on Kurds goes into effect