Pakistan throws support behind Iraq govt, opposes Kurdish referendum

Iraqi Kurds hold a demonstration at Arbil airport in the capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan after the central government in Baghdad ordered an indefinite halt to all foreign flights to and from their region

Pakistan throws support behind Iraq govt, opposes Kurdish referendum

Kurdish forces have been key allies in US-backed offensives against IS in both Syria and Iraq.

True that the local government in Kurdistan confronted the global community with its insistence to carry out the referendum, but the tension in Iraq and the region wasn't caused only by it.

Iraqi Kurdish transport minister Mawlud Bawa Murad has said the flight ban would "negatively impact all worldwide businesses in the Kurdistan region, in addition to all civilians, from all nations".

Diesel is one of Iran's key exports to the oil-rich region, mainly for power plants and vehicles, while the Kurds rely nearly exclusively on crude and fuel oil exports to raise revenues.

But the vote has set off alarm bells in Baghdad, where the government has said it is determined to prevent a break-up of the country, and in Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Turkey, which fear the vote will fuel similar ambitions among their own significant Kurdish populations.

Two days before the referendum, the Iraqi Army advanced to launch an offensive on ISIS strongholds in Hawija - the scene foresees a spark of military confrontation that would break out anytime.

Iran has already closed its aerial zone to the region at the request of Iraq's government.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau responded to these charges, noting, "I understand why those who support Hamas and want to see the Mossad everywhere that is uncomfortable for them, but Israel had no part in the Kurdish referendum, apart from the deep, natural sympathy that the people of Israel have had for many years for the Kurdish people and their aspirations".

The Kurdish leadership also welcomed the call for dialogue presented by most revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to resolve the crisis, which was exacerbated after the Kurdish region held the referendum on September 25.

Turkey is the great power of the region (80 million people and a big, modern economy), so Erdogan's threats to shut off the pipeline that delivers Kurdish oil to the world and to stop exporting food to Iraqi Kurdistan have to be taken seriously. More than 90 percent voted in favor of independence.

"The dismissal of [Koorachi] has nothing to do with the referendum, but connected to an internal matter of our party", he said. Turkey has threatened to send troops into the area to suppress the Kurds.

The last global flight from Erbil airport before a ban on imposed by the Iraqi government begins took off at about 5:00 pm (1400 GMT), an airport official said.

Iraqi forces meanwhile launched an assault on the northern town of Hawija, one of the last IS bastions in the country along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the border with Syria.

However, numerous Kurds are now facing being stranded after the Baghdad government in response to the vote, ordered worldwide flights to halt service to Kurdish airports beginning on Friday.

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