US 'Does Not Recognize' Kurdish Referendum, Says Results 'Lack Legitimacy'

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Iranian and Iraqi central government forces are to hold joint military exercises near their borders, Iran's state television reported yesterday, as part of Teheran's effort to support Baghdad after the Kurdish independence referendum.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, al-Abadi says Binali Yildirim stressed his government's support on all measures taken in response to the Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq PM Haider al Abadi.

Washington has said it does not recognise the "unilateral" referendum.

Turkey had forged close ties to Iraq's Kurdish region, but is strongly opposed to its moves toward independence.

Tehran has been cooperating with Baghdad in building pressure on Iraqi Kurds, notably by cutting all flights to and from the region ahead of the vote.

Wages, including those of Kurdish peshmerga fighters, were slashed after the end of those transfers, which were worth around Dollars 12 billion annually and made up 80 per cent of the region's budget revenues.

"The president... recalled the importance of preserving unity and Iraq's (territorial) integrity while recognising the rights of the Kurdish people", the statement said.

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Repercussions were swift, with airlines from Turkey as well as Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon saying they would halt flights to Iraqi Kurdistan this week until further notice at the request of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraq's military is preparing to take control of the global borders of the northern Kurdish region.

Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said that Omar Mirani, representative of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government's President Masoud Barzani was asked not to come back to Turkey.

They come a day after Iraq instituted a flight ban that halted all global flights from servicing the territory's airports.

Meanwhile, the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, or KRG, said Friday that Baghdad's punitive measures against its plebiscite amounted to "collective punishment against the people of Kurdistan".

Northern Iraq's main link to the outside world, Turkey views Monday's vote - which final results on Wednesday showed overwhelming in favour of independence from Baghdad - as a clear security threat.

Iraqi troops are now stationed in Turkey and Iran and will reportedly soon start controlling who goes in and who comes out of Kurdish-controlled areas, the Associated Press reports.

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