Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, November 05, 2007

Iraqi Kurds fear economic sanctions

Iraqi Kurds fear devastating economic sanctions against their semi-autonomous region, after reports that Ankara has closed its airspace to and from Iraq and also planned further measures to put pressure on Kurdish authorities to act against PKK rebels in Iraq, the Guardian reported.

According to the article: “The sanctions, agreed on Wednesday, remained unspecified, but Turkish officials are reportedly considering restricting the flow of traffic and goods at the Habur bridge border crossing, which is an economic lifeline for Iraq’s north and an important supply route for multinational forces.

“When we talk of economic sanctions, we don’t mean to cause difficulty to people living in Turkey and Iraq,” said the Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan. “We are targeting the economic sources of the terrorist organization and those elements providing support to the terrorist organization.”

Turkey has 100,000 troops alongside its border with Iraq and has threatened a military invasion unless Iraq and the U.S. take sufficient action against the PKK fighters holed up in the remote mountains of northern Iraq.

According to the article: “Iraqi Kurds suspect that Turkey is using the PKK crisis as a pretext to squeeze their autonomous region, which is the safest in Iraq.”

“It is unfortunate that in the last few days, Turkey has closed its airspace to planes not only to the Kurdistan region but as far as we know also to Baghdad,” said Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president. “We don't know whether or when they will implement them [the sanctions], but we are following the situation closely.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the claims of the closure of Turkish airspace. However, Turkish businessmen visiting an international trade fair in the Kurdish capital Irbil, were left waiting because of the cancellation of flights from Istanbul.

For the full article, click here.


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