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Most Voters Support Kurdish Independence, Initial Count Shows

Most Voters Support Kurdish Independence, Initial Count Shows”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Monday to cut off the pipeline that carries 500,000-600,000 barrels of crude per day from northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, intensifying pressure on the Kurdish autonomous region over its independence referendum.

The independence referendum in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region proceeded despite warnings by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Turkey, Syria, Iran and the U.S. that the ballot could result in cross-border destabilization.

The historic poll, which is nonbinding, took place in three northern Kurdish provinces of Iraq, as well as in disputed areas such as the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

He also suggested that Turkey could halt oil flows from a pipeline from northern Iraq.

On Saturday, Turkey's parliament met in an extraordinary session to extend a mandate allowing Turkey's military to send troops over its southern border if developments in Iraq and Syria are perceived as national security threats. This week we will adopt so many other measures.

"It's pretty clear the Kurds are going to vote for independence and we will have yet another geopolitical hot spot in the Middle East that threatens a significant amount of oil supply", said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capita. "Nothing will go across the borders".

"Entrance-exit will be closed" at the Habur border crossing, Turkey's sole land border crossing with Iraq, Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul.

Voting stations set up on Monday for the referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq closed their doors at 7:00 p.m (1600 GMT) and vote counting has started, the supervising body said. The valve is with us.

Turkey said on Monday that it doesn't recognize the referendum and declared its results would be "null and void".

The Turkish army launched military exercises involving tanks and armoured vehicles near the Habur border crossing a week ago and they are expected to continue until at least September 26.

Erdogan warned the KRG of a cross-border operation by the Turkish army similar to that taken in northern Syria a year ago against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Kurdish armed fighters.

One day ahead of the referendum, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Barzani and demanded him to avoid tensions with Iraqi central government in the aftermath of the referendum, a Kurdish official told me on the condition of anonymity. The peshmerga insulated the region from the insurgency and sectarian killings that plagued much of the rest Iraq, and oil revenues fueled an economic boom, leading to talk of a new Dubai.

Seventy-eight percent of the 5.2 million eligible voters turned out to vote, Erbil-based Rudaw TV said, citing the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission.



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