Erbil International Airport. File photo: Rudaw
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi Council of Ministers has decided to bring the Kurdistan Region’s airports under the authority of the central government, giving Erbil three days to hand them over to Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the decision in his weekly news conference after the meeting of the Council of Ministers. If Erbil does not comply within the three days, Baghdad will close the airports, he asserted.
“We decided to halt all airlines, travel, and the landing of planes from regional and world countries at Erbil and Sulaimani airports, and vice versa. The decision will be implemented within three days, by Friday,” at 6pm, Abadi said, adding they have contacted countries with regard to this.
Humanitarian and emergency flights will not be affected provided they obtain prior approval from Baghdad. Domestic flights are not affected.
Abadi also demanded all oil revenues of the Kurdistan Region to be returned to the control of federal authorities.
He tweeted that those who want to “weaken” Iraq’s sovereignty have “miscalculated.”
Abadi stressed that the referendum will hurt Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole and his government will impose its authority according to the constitution.
“We will not extend our hand to touch the honor of Kurdish citizens,” Abadi added.
“The leaders of the Kurdistan Region didn’t listen to the calls for not holding the referendum and we will not hold discussions on its result,” Abadi said.
Flights have been landing and taking off from both Erbil and Sulaimani airports, according to their respective websites.
Latest flights in and out of Erbil International Airport, Tuesday evening. Screenshot: Erbil Airport website