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Baghdad plans to reopen oil pipeline to Turkey, bypassing Kurdistan


Iraq has plans to reopen the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey which will bypass the pipeline used by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), posing threats of increasing economic sanctions in the wake of Kurdistan’s referendum for independence. Jabar al-Luaibi, Iraq’s oil minister, announced on Tuesday preparations to begin the process of restoring and reopening the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. The federally-controlled Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline was destroyed by militants in 2014, prior to ISIS capturing territory that the pipeline ran through. The pipeline passes through Salahaddin and Nineveh provinces. Rehabilitation of the pipeline can begin now that the area has been cleared of “terrorist gangs”, the Oil Ministry stated.

Erdoğan, Rouhani agree KRG referendum is a foreign sectarian plot for division


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani delivered a joint press conference in Iran on Wednesday. “Iran and Turkey are the most important names of the region because of their power. In recent days, the relations of the two countries have further developed politically and economically”, said Rouhani, thanking Erdoğan for accepting his invitation for an official visit. “Our main goal is to ensure security and stability in the region. Sectarian discrimination is the plot of foreigners in the region. Both countries do not accept discrimination. Northern Iraq should make up for its mistake. We support the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria”, Rouhani said, rejecting the Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) illegitimate referendum as a foreign sectarian plot for division. Rouhani added that Ankara and Tehran would confront the disintegration of Iraq and Syria. “The Iraq issue has become a priority on our agenda. We have already stated that we do not recognize the KRG’s illegitimate referendum. What is the northern Iraqi Regional Government holding a referendum on? There is no country that recognizes northern Iraq other than Israel. A decision made at a table with Mossad is illegitimate”, Erdoğan continued.

Turkey, Iran leaders to put heads together to keep region safe from growing threats


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay an official visit to Tehran Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues amid growing tension following the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) referendum to secede from Iraq. According to presidential sources, Erdoğan is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit, which comes upon the invitation by Rouhani. A convergence has evolved between Ankara, Tehran and the Iraqi central government following last week’s illegitimate poll in KRG-controlled areas as well as disputed territories such as Kirkuk amid fears that the vote may lead to greater instability in the region and disrupt war with Daesh. Two days prior to Erdoğan’s visit, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar went to Tehran where he met his Iranian counterpart, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri.

Iran, Turkey look to enhance ties


Improving cooperation between Turkey and Iran would make a significant contribution to solving regional problems, Iran’s president said on Monday, on the eve of a visit by his counterpart. Hassan Rouhani made the remarks while receiving Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at the presidential palace in Tehran. Stating that relations between the two countries in the areas of the economy and foreign policy are already healthy, he said, “We should also work to improve relations in the fields of the military and defense”. About the KRG referendum, Rouhani stated that the deterioration of geographical boundaries would harm regional security and stability. “Turkey and Iran, as two important and powerful countries of the region, will play an important role in the region’s stability and peace with improving cooperation” he said.


KRG refuses to hand control of border crossings to Iraq


The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq refuses to relinquish control of its border crossings to the Iraqi government, Irbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a KRG official. Relinquishing control over border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria is a demand made by Iraq, Iran and Turkey in retaliation for the Kurdish independence referendum held on Monday in northern Iraq. Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Turkey and Russia on same page regarding territorial integrity of Iraq, Syria, Erdoğan says


Turkey and Russia are on the same page regarding the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two leaders held a meeting at the presidential complex in capital Ankara, which lasted for about three hours. Speaking to press representatives after the bilateral meeting, Erdoğan said that regional issues, including latest developments in Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) controversial independence referendum were discussed. The president also said that Turkey and Russia agreed on the joint will and close cooperation to solve the Syrian crisis through diplomacy, adding that he was happy with the progress made in the Astana process, sponsored by Turkey, Russia and Iran. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin praised Erdoğan for his efforts and initiative to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, saying they “have de-facto created the necessary conditions for the end of the fratricidal war in Syria and the final defeat of terrorists as well as for the Syrian people’s return to normal life”.

Turkey could block KRG’s oil exports in response to referendum, Erdoğan says


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday that Turkey considers the independence referendum in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) null and void and illegitimate regardless of its results, adding that there may be economic and military repercussions. Erdoğan warned that Turkey could block the KRG’s oil exports. “We’ll see who KRG will sell its oil to, Turkey is in control of the valve”, he said, referring to the Kirkuk – Ceyhan oil pipeline that connects oil fields in northern Iraq to the oil terminal in the Mediterranean. Erdoğan noted that Turkey would not hesitate to use force if necessary, saying “Just as we’ve liberated Jarablus, al-Rai, and al-Bab from Daesh in Syria, if need be we won’t shy away from such steps in Iraq”. Last week the Turkish Armed Forces began a military drill in the region around the border town of Silopi including 100 military vehicles, which continued with reinforcements this weekend. The Turkish parliament on Saturday approved overwhelmingly a one-year extension of a mandate to use troops abroad in Syria and Iraq.

Barzani refuses to suspend non-binding KRG referendum


RaqKurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani reiterated that the non-binding independence referendum scheduled for Sept. 25 would go ahead as planned. In a meeting with Special Representative of the United Nations in Iraq, Jan Kubis, Barzani stated that “the referendum was the purest form of democracy”. Barzani also said the KRG was open to dialogue with Baghdad and they could negotiate border and other issues in a peaceful atmosphere, away from conflict. Baghdad, however, rejects the planned poll, saying it will adversely affect the fight against Daesh, which still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq. The Iraqi government also believes that holding the poll would violate the terms of the country’s 2005 constitution. Turkey also rejects the planned referendum, saying the region’s stability depends on the maintenance of Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.

Erdoğan discusses KRG referendum with Iran’s Rouhani


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the controversial Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) independence referendum with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over the phone, presidential sources reported. “The two leaders noted that not canceling the referendum will bring with it chaos in the region and they stressed the great importance which they attach to Iraq’s territorial integrity”, the statement released by Erdoğan’s office said. Iraqi Kurds in provinces controlled by the KRG in northern Iraq, including those who are contested between the central government and KRG, are set to head to polls on Monday to vote in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq. Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the U.N. have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region. Barzani has said a “Yes” vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.

KRG referendum ‘a matter of national security’ for Turkey, PM Yıldırım says


Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Saturday that the planned independence referendum of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was a matter of national security for Turkey. According to presidential sources, the prime minister underlined that Turkey was ready to take all necessary steps regarding the much-debated referendum expected to be hold on Sept. 25. Previously on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey would announce its plan regarding the KRG referendum after the National Security Council and cabinet meetings on Sept. 22, rescheduling the meetings three days before the KRG vote. KRG leader Masoud Barzani announced Friday the planned date for the referendum, despite strong objections from Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran, in addition to disapproval by the U.S. and Russia.

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