Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump wait for a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly September 21, 2017 in New York City. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkey’s National Security Council headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to convene Friday to discuss the country’s “sanctions” against the scheduled Kurdish independence referendum to be held on Monday. It comes a day after Erdogan and US President Donald Trump warned of “serious consequences” around the Kurdish vote.
The meeting that was supposed to take place on September 27, has been brought forward as the Kurdistan Region have been adamant that the vote will go ahead despite unprecedented regional and global pressure to call off the historic vote.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the defense and foreign ministers, the head of intelligence (MIT), and the top military chief will all attend the meeting. Later today, the Turkish cabinet will also hold a meeting that is planned to translate the recommendations passed by the National Security Council into actions.
Erdogan had said earlier that he sent the head of MIT Hakan Fidan, to Erbil to advise the Kurdish leaders against holding the vote, but he said Erbil did not listen and instead decided to make this “big mistake.”
The Turkish president said Thursday that they consider imposing sanctions on the Kurdistan Region without giving more details.
Erdogan, who has returned from his trip to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly, met on Thursday with US President Donald Trump.
A statements by the White House following the meeting between the two leaders warned Erbil of “serious consequences that would follow if it [the referendum] occurs.”
The statement demanded the Kurdish government to accept the ‘intense negotiations” by the international community that seeks to find a solution to the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad. Both Washington and Ankara said they are willing to help with the talks.
Turkey is Kurdistan’s number one gate to the outside world with regard to the export of its estimated 550,000 barrels of oil per day to the international market, and Kurdistan is the third biggest markets for Turkish goods after Germany and the United Kingdom with billions of dollars in trade exchange.
The Turkish security forces began an unannounced military drill on its borders with the Kurdistan Region on Monday as a show of force.
The foreign ministers for Turkey and Iran — two countries with significant Kurdish populations — and Iraq held a meeting in New York, after which they said they agreed to take “coordinated measures” against the vote.
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Wednesday that while they believe beyond any doubt that there will not be a military intervention by Kurdistan’s neighbours, he warned that Ankara and Tehran must know that the Kurdish “hands are not tied” either.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki have both ruled out any room for an internationally-backed negotiation. PM Abadi said on Tuesday that they reject a Kurdish referendum “now or in future.”
France, Turkey, and the United Nations coordinated diplomatically to present an alternative to the referendum. But Kurdistan’s High Referendum Council said in a statement on Thursday that no alternative had been offered that can secure the Kurdish right to an independent state.
President Masoud Barzani received a phone call on Thursday from his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, according to a statement from the Kurdish presidency. President Macron asked the Kurdish leadership to postpone the vote, but Barzani told them that the vote will go ahead, and that the talks with Baghdad will continue after the referendum.