Iraq SC orders suspension of Kurdistan referendum

Minister of Oil for Iraq Jabar Al Luaibi speaking at the Gulf Intelligence Energy Markets Forum in Fujairah. Antonie Robertson  The National

"Iraq's integrity is a red line that can not be violated", Hakim said in a meeting with Iraqi tribal leaders in southeastern Wasit province.

The vote was due on September 25 in the three provinces that make up the region, as well as disputed territories claimed by both the Kurdish region and Baghdad.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to suspend its referendum for independence slated for next week, cautioning that it would engender further instability the region.

"We want the government and parliament of fraternal Azerbaijan to adopt a statement condemning the referendum decision of the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq and stressing that it's unacceptable to associate the future of Kirkuk and other Turkmen regions with the referendum", Salihi added.

A curfew was imposed in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Monday night, following deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the referendum, Kirkuk police said.

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Turkey, which has already warned against the vote, has its own long-running conflict with separatists among its sizable Kurdish minority and has also vowed to quash any Kurdish state from emerging in war-torn Syria.

A "yes" vote in the independence referendum would not spell immediate independence for the Kurdish region, since the referendum does not have legal force.

The Kurdish region has repeatedly ignored calls from Baghdad that the vote is unconstitutional and it is unclear if the federal court's ruling will alter plans to carry out the referendum.

A Reuters reporter saw armoured vehicles carrying heavy weaponry and soldiers taking positions in specially dug areas, their weapons directed across the border.

But Ankara has cultivated close political and business ties with the Kurdish Regional Government, and would be loath to disrupt commerce, especially in oil, through any intervention.

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The standoff has hit the Turkish lira, which weakened beyond 3.5 to the dollar on Tuesday for the first time in four weeks.

Earlier, Turkey's military said it had kicked off a previously unannounced drill near its border with Iraq.

The Iraqi Kurdish referendum is scheduled for September 25.

Turkey has brought forward to Friday a cabinet meeting and a session of its national security council to consider possible action.

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