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Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Today, Turkey's National Security Council will meet to formulate its official response to the planned September 25 Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum.

The President of Iraq's Kurdish region said that the controversial referendum on support for independence will go forward Monday, despite increasingly urgent calls from the global community to delay the vote.

He said the Iraqi government's efforts to delay the vote and start negotiations with Kurdish leaders were somewhat halfhearted, unlike successful campaigns by Britain against independence for Scotland and Canada's efforts against independence for Quebec.

"For independence we must pay any price needed because we prefer freedom over subordination or oppression", Barzani told a rally on Friday in Erbil, adding that Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had earned the right to self-determination by battling Islamic State.

On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of neighbouring Turkey and Iran, which themselves have sizeable Kurdish minorities, agreed with their Iraqi counterpart that the referendum could divide Iraq and spark a wider regional conflict.

Iraq's government has called the referendum unconstitutional, with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejecting it, "whether today or in the future".

"It is not possible for us to accept the postponing of the referendum either".

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This week, the Turkish military launched previously unannounced military exercises near the border with Iraq in an apparent warning to Iraq's Kurds.

"We will announce our final thoughts on the issue with the cabinet meeting and national security council decision", Erdogan said.

Saying that the referendum lacks worldwide legitimacy, Yilmaz called on KRG President Masoud Barzani to cancel it.

The UN Security Council expressed concern on Thursday over what it says is "the potentially destabilising impact" of next Monday's vote.

"After the constitution of Iraq was drafted, we accepted it, but Baghdad did not comply with it. Article 140 of the constitution was not implemented", he said. The United States and Iran and have also voiced opposition to the referendum saying it could destabilise the region and harm the fight against IS.

In Iraq, where they make up an estimated 15% to 20% of the population of 37 million, Kurds faced decades of repression before acquiring autonomy in 1991.

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