Turkey holds security summit amid Iraqi Kurdish referendum tension

Turkey holds security summit amid Iraqi Kurdish referendum tension

Turkey holds security summit amid Iraqi Kurdish referendum tension

Turkey held a security meeting on Sept. 27 at the helm of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as tensions rise in the region over an Iraqi Kurdish referendum for independence.

Senior government officials, military leaders and security bureaucracy came together at the meeting in which Turkey’s potential measures against the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) were discussed once again. Turkey had held its National Security Council (MGK) meeting just days before the referendum took place and had declared it was ready to take all measures against the independence bid of the Iraqi Kurds.

Pursuing a long-cherished dream of statehood, the Iraqi Kurds went ahead with the referendum in defiance of widespread objections, including Turkey.

The move has raised fears of unrest and the possibility of a military confrontation involving the Kurds, who are key allies in internationally backed offensives against the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

President Erdoğan had warned earlier that Turkey would shut its border with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and threatened to block oil exports from the region through Turkey. He even suggested the possibility of a cross-border incursion similar to the one Turkey carried out against ISIL and Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The Turkish Army, with the participation of nearly 35 Iraqi soldiers, has been carrying out a military exercise across the Habur border gate with Iraq, which is under the control of the KRG.

Ankara is also alarmed for the security of Turkmen groups in northern Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, not only keeping an eye on possible Kurdish pressure on the local Turkmen/Arab groups, but also on the possible interference of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) in the disputed city.