ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey, Iran and Iraq have agreed to consider counter-measures against Kurdish northern Iraq over a planned independence referendum, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the three countries voiced concerns that the referendum would endanger gains Iraq has made against Islamic state, and reiterated worries of potential new conflicts in the region, Anadolu said.
“The ministers underlined that the referendum will not benefit the Kurds or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, and in this light, agreed to consider counter-measures in cooperation with each other,” the statement said.
The Anadolu report gave no details of the possible measures but said the ministers, who were in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, called on the international community to intervene.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to impose sanctions against Kurdish northern Iraq. Turkish troops are also carrying out military exercises near the border.
The central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers fear the vote could divide the country and spark a wider regional conflict, after Arabs and Kurds cooperated to dislodge Islamic State from its stronghold in Mosul.
But the Kurds say they are determined to go ahead with the vote, which, though non-binding, could trigger the process of separation in a country already divided along sectarian and ethnic lines.
Anadolu said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and their Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari had voiced their “complete determination” to maintain Iraq’s territorial and political integrity.