Kurdish region's leaders made mistake in ignoring Turkey's advice, foreign minister says.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq failed to follow Turkish advice before launching an independence referendum, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.
He was speaking days after Baghdad sent troops to take control of Kirkuk, an oil-rich region that had been disputed between the Kurdish administration and the central government.
“The KRG made a wrong calculation and did not listen to our advice,” the minister told a televised news conference in Ankara. “We told them that there might be problems [like those] they are facing right now.
“It thought that it would unite Kurds but, on the contrary, it has divided the Kurds in Iraq.”
The illegitimate referendum was carried out in the three provinces allocated to Kurdish control under the Iraqi constitution as well as disputed areas such as Kirkuk that Kurdish forces seized in 2014 as Daesh sent Iraqi government troops into retreat.
Cavusoglu said the vote had led to “a big chaos” across the region.
The referendum was condemned by all regional powers, but Israel, as well as the UN and U.S. Most warned it would distract from the fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
Along with a raft of other retaliatory measures, Iraq’s Council of Ministers on Monday said legal procedures were under way against all KRG members involved in conducting the poll.
Turning to the ongoing diplomatic dispute with the U.S., Cavusoglu said cooperation was the way to resolve the row, which has seen both countries suspend some visa services.
“We could cooperate but there is an independent judiciary in Turkey,” he said, referring to U.S. protests over the arrest of Turkish employees at their missions, which led to the fallout earlier this month.
Cavusoglu added: “We will surely make cooperation when there is something appropriate to our laws, our constitution and our sovereignty… Turkey will not bow to demands or we will reject conditions that we cannot accept from the beginning.”
The U.S. staff were held on suspicion of ties to the Fetullah Gulen Organization, said to have organized last year’s attempted military coup.
Last week, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also stressed the independence of Turkey’s justice system and said respect for it could lead to the row being resolved in a day.