ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Baghdad cannot open any new border crossings with Turkey without the approval of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), claimed a Kurdish official on Tuesday.
“Whatever has been said about border closures with neighboring countries and the Kurdistan Region are just threats,” the Secretary-General of Peshmerga Jabar Yawar told Kurdistan 24, adding that there were no practical steps to implement such measures.
“No border crossing could open in the Kurdistan Region without the official approval of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG),” Yawar said.
Yawar's comments followed Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's comment to reporters in Ankara, asserting Turkey was considering opening a new border crossing with the Federal Government of Iraq and closing the current Ibrahim Khalil gate being managed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Recently, Baghdad has been escalating its sharp rhetoric in the aftermath of the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region. Day by day, retaliatory sentences are being added to an ever-growing list, and the Iraqi Government has attempted to secure regional support in implementing sanctions.
“We have proposed Baghdad the opening of a new gate in Ovakoy, west of the currently-used Khabur gate, and we expect it will be approved. We will be happy to further discuss this with [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi,” Yildirim said.
However, Turkey shares no border with areas that are under the authority of the central government of Iraq, but rather with the KRG.Following Kurdistan’s independence referendum, both Turkey and Iran threatened to close their borders with the Region. The Federal Government of Iraq had also officially requested both countries put an end to their trade with the Kurdistan Region and isolate the landlocked nation.
Addressing rumors that Turkey would open a border crossing with Iraq via the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) border to bypass the Kurdistan Region, a Rojava representative in the Kurdistan Region, Sherzad Ezidi, rejected the claims and labeled them “baseless.”
“It is impossible for Rojava to be part of regional powers' plan to suffocate the Kurdistan Region and starve Kurdish children,” Ezidi told Kurdistan 24.
Recently, the central government released a new set of sanctions, notably restoring federal authority over the disputed territories currently under the KRG's administration, prosecuting state employees who participated in the referendum and asking the telecommunication companies to move their headquarters from Erbil to Baghdad.
A court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of members of the Kurdistan Region's Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission for their role in the Sep. 25 vote.
Kurdish officials have repeatedly called on Baghdad to agree to a peaceful dialogue and negotiations to settle disputes between the two parties. Baghdad, however, has demanded the referendum's results be nullified as a condition to initiate a discussion.
Editing by G.H. Renaud