Kurdish bid for independence from Iraq emerges as regional flash point

Kurdish bid for independence from Iraq emerges as regional flash point”

ARAB LEAGUE secretary-general Ahmed Aboul-Gheit urged Iraqis yesterday to renounce their differences and open comprehensive dialogue to avoid clashes following Iraq's Kurdish minority's independence referendum.

Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

The suspension will begin on Friday evening (September 29), according to Erbil's airport director, who says the decision is wrong.

"All global flights without exception to and from Erbil will stop from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Friday following a decision by the Iraqi cabinet and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi", Talar Faiq Salih told AFP on Thursday. The notice said that only domestic flights will be allowed.

Iraqi authorities say they will still allow domestic flights operated by Iraqi Airways and aid flights, Jane reports, and the change is "not expected to affect US and other military flights operating out of the military side of the Irbil airport".

Iraq's Transport Ministry ordered worldwide airlines to halt service to Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and Sulaimaniyah, its second city, beginning Friday evening. Lebanon's Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir and Royal Jordanian announced Wednesday that flights would be suspended beginning Friday evening.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since the 1980s, but also has bases across the border in northern Iraq which Turkey regularly targets. It hit a more than two-year high of $59.49 on Tuesday after Monday's referendum vote prompted Turkey to threaten to close the region's oil pipeline.

Along with Iraq's central government, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the United Nations spoke out against the referendum, saying it would distract from the ongoing fight against IS and further destabilize the region.

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