Turkish PM rules out war with Kurdistan over referendum

Yildirim's remarks followed a Turkish far-right leader's earlier suggestion of war and the beheading of those "thinking of dividing Turkey."

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday said Kurdistan Region's next month referendum on independence from Iraq could not constitute a casus belli for his country.

Yildirim's remarks carried by the state-funded Anadolu Agency followed a Thursday call for war by the leader of far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli who described the referendum by the Kurds in Iraq as a prelude to creating a state for those in Turkey.

Bahceli went so far as to suggest the beheading of those "thinking of activating dynamics that divide Turkey."

"If a state starts challenging our sovereignty rights then we will have a reason for war. But what the regional administration which is a part of Iraq [does] cannot become casus belli," Yildirim told reporters during a flight back from Vietnam where he was on an official trip.

But Yildirim went on reiterating his country's rejection of the referendum, calling it "a wrong step," and inviting the Kurdish authorities to cancel it in no time.

Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani has repeatedly announced that there will be no turning back from Kurds' path to self-determination.

“Iraq’s central government, Iran, Turkey oppose it. The US says we don't want it. European countries call it untimely. Taking all these into account, there is no reason for the Northern Iraqi administration to keep insisting on this subject,” Yıldırım said, avoiding using the region's constitutionally recognized name 'Kurdistan.'

Turks fear any attempt at statehood by the Kurds in Iraq would embolden others in Turkey, Syria, and Iran in seeking self-rule, if not outright independence.


Editing by Ava Homa