Russia's Rosneft eyes Iraqi Kurdistan gas pipeline deal

20 September, 2017, 01:07 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Turkish president speaks with Iraqi PM on phone

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said he rejected any type of referendum on independence for the northern autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurds will vote on September 25 in the non-binding referendum on whether to declare independence in a region that has already been autonomous since the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The Kurdistan government, however, claims the central government has violated at least 55 articles of the constitution, including Article 140 that was supposed to determine the fate of the Kurdistani or disputed areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk by 2007.

Iraq's ethnically-mixed and contested city of Kirkuk was on a nighttime curfew on Tuesday after clashes erupted there the previous night between Kurds and Turkmen amid preparations for the controversial Kurdish independence referendum next week, a local Turkmen official said. The Kurdish dead and wounded were among those celebrating, they said.

The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq is planned to be held in the three governorates that make up the Kurdish region and in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and Iraqi governments but are now under Kurdish military control.

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Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'a militias have threatened to dislodge the Peshmerga from Kirkuk should the Kurds proceed with the vote.

Last week, Iraqi lawmakers voted against the independence referendum and called on the Baghdad government to negotiate with the Kurdish Regional Government.

The UN, US and other western powers fear the poll could distract attention from the fight against Isis militants occupying parts of Iraq and Syria.

The military says the exercise - a show of force ahead of the vote - started on Monday near the town of Silopi, close to the Habur border gate between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish region.

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Mr Portal is reported to have been killed on Monday, but the news of his death only broke last night (SAT). The site is located very close to the border with Hidalgo, which is notorious for drug-related homicides.

Tanks and rocket launchers mounted on armored vehicles faced the Iraqi frontier, about 2 km (one mile) away, and mechanical diggers tore up agricultural fields for the army to set up positions in the flat, dry farmlands.

The government responded by sacking Kirkuk's Kurdish governor, who has refused to leave his post. The standoff has weakened the Turkish lira beyond 3.5 to the dollar for the first time in four weeks. Rosneft has long sought to challenge Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, in supplying gas to Europe.

The Turkish cabinet and Turkish national security council have scheduled meetings on Friday to consider possible action.

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