ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Federal Government of Iraq on Monday announced new measures to be taken against the Kurdistan Region in retaliation to the referendum on independence held on Sep. 25.
As Iraqi officials are visiting Erbil to de-escalate tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, Baghdad released a new list of sanctions against the Kurdistan Region.
The Iraqi Council of Ministers met with the Iraqi National Security Council and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, during which he announced new measures would be implemented against Erbil, in addition to the flight ban and border closure threats.
The new measures include restoring Federal authority in the disputed territories currently under the KRG’s administration, according to the National Security Council’s statement released following the meeting.
The statement also mentioned that Baghdad has launched a lawsuit to prosecute state employees in the Kurdistan Region who voted in the Sep. 25 referendum.
While the Federal Government of Iraq deems the vote "unconstitutional," the Kurdish leadership affirms the poll's legitimacy comes from the people directly whereas Baghdad officials have regularly violated some 55 articles of the Iraqi Constitution.
During the meeting, Abadi decided to hand over control of telecommunications in the Kurdistan Region to the Federal Government’s authority by ordering their headquarters to move to Baghdad.
In addition to internet services, the largest telecommunications companies in Iraq's headquarters are based in Erbil, such as Asia Cell and Korek, both of which have millions of clients in the center and southern provinces of Iraq.
The Foreign Ministry of Iraq recently stated that they had requested both Iran and Turkey, via their embassies in Baghdad, to suspend all commercial border transactions and dealings with the Kurdistan Region.
The Iraqi Premier in the meeting reiterated the request to Turkey and Iran, which includes “the suspension of all commercial transactions, especially those related to the export of oil.”
So far, neighboring countries have not effectively closed their border crossings with the Kurdistan Region, but continue to threaten the Region with border closures.
Baghdad has already imposed penalties on the Kurdistan Region, including a flight ban on both the Erbil and Sulaimani international airports, which has affected the lives of many, notably humanitarian aid workers and foreign workers.
The Kurdish officials have labeled Baghdad's actions as “collective punishment” against the people of the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdistan Region's leadership held the referendum on independence in what it described as a response to Baghdad's treatment of the people of the Kurdistan Region, and which ended with almost 93 percent of over 72 percent of eligible voters in the Region voting in favor of secession.
Editing by G.H. Renaud