Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late on Thursday the division of Iraq is their internal issue, but Turkey would not tolerate any threat to its borders.
Erdogan’s comments came during a TV programme on Turkey’s A Haber news channel, responding a question whether he was concerned over the possibility of Iraq’s division in the light of the United States’ latest attitude on the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and the KRG President Massoud Barzani’s latest statements.
President Erdogan said the case should be evaluated as a priority for Iraq’s internal affairs, adding it was Iraq’s domestic issue but it would not benefit the North Iraq.
“For the rest, planning anything on our borders or even thinking about it, would be about our unitary structure which we would never tolerate,” said Erdogan.
“Their division inside Iraq move would be about their relations with Iraq’s central government since the relations between the KRG and the central government are not well.”
During a meeting with the North Iraq’s political and civil society movement leaders on Tuesday, Massoud Barzani said he was ready to declare independence if they support him.
“If you support me, stand beside me, and solve the contradictions among you, I’m ready right now for the declaration of independence,” said Barzani.
Barzani’s statements speculated that he took the US support on the issue during his visit to Washington last week.
According to Kurdish TV channel Rudaw, the US Vice President Joe Biden mentioned the US intention to see an independent Kurdish state.
“Mr President [Barzani], we both will see an independent Kurdish state,” said Biden to Barzani, according to Rudaw.
Meanwhile, the US lawmakers have approved a bill on May 15, allowing a direct aid to Kurdish Regional Government, which used to go through the Iraqi central government.
Following the approval of the bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee released as statement hailing the decision.
“[Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry’s] proposal reinforces the mission against ISIS and Operation Inherent Resolve [OIR]. His proposal reauthorises the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq,” it said.
“The Chairman also supports authorising the president’s request of $715 million for security assistance to Iraqi forces combating ISIL. However, Chairman Thornberry requires that 25 percent of the funds be provided directly to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni forces.”
The bill further states that if the Iraqi government does not stop the mistreatment of minorities the percentage of aid sent to Sunni and KRG forces will rise to 60 percent.
The US bill, though yet to be approved by the White House and Congress, met with strong opposition from both the Iraqi government and Shiite personalities in the country.