Iraq on Tuesday gave the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan 72 hours to hand over control of airports in the autonomous region or face a ban on international flights. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued the ultimatum following a Cabinet meeting, Efe reported. The Cabinet also decided to assert control over all border checkpoints in Iraqi Kurdistan and to close all unofficial crossings. “The federal government will exercise its federal power according to the constitution,” al-Abadi.
“We will not negotiate with Kurdistan on the basis of the results of the unilateral and unconstitutional referendum.” Iraq’s constitution recognises Kurdistan as an autonomous part of a federal state. On Monday, Iraqi Kurds held a non-binding referendum on independence, defying the wishes of the governments of Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Al-Abadi criticised the Kurdish leaders for going ahead with the vote despite widespread international opposition, not only from neighboring countries, but from the US and several European nations as well. “This referendum will put all Iraqis in danger as well as endanger the interests of countries in the region,” the Prime Minister said.