Turkey warns Iraqi Kurdish referendum will ‘have a cost’

In this Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 photo, a man walks past a campaign poster printed on a Kurdish flag urging people to vote yes in the upcoming poll on independence from Iraq, Irbil, Iraq. Despite calls from Baghdad and the United States to postpone the vote, Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region is pressing ahead with plans to hold a referendum on independence September 25. Some officials within Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government describe the vote as a step in pursuit of self-determination, but the lead up to the planned referendum has highlighted the region’s lingering divisions and economic deficiencies.(AP)
Updated 14 September 2017
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Turkey warns Iraqi Kurdish referendum will ‘have a cost’

ANKARA: Turkey on Thursday warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders that a planned independence referendum would “have a cost” as Ankara welcomed a vote by Iraq’s parliament against the poll.
The non-binding referendum set for September 25 has faced strong opposition from Turkey as well as from Iran, which fear it will stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.
Iraq’s parliament on Tuesday voted down the plan in a session which prompted a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers.
The Turkish foreign ministry warned in a statement that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders’ call for a referendum was “worrying.”
The Iraqi Kurdish government’s “insistence on the referendum despite all friendly advice will definitely have a cost,” the ministry said, urging Irbil to return from their “erroneous approach.”
The ministry said it welcomed the decision made by the Iraqi parliament, adding that their vote was a “clear indicator of importance attached to Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity.”


US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

Updated 13 min 26 sec ago
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US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

  • The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila
  • Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power.
Washington declined to identify the individuals, saying it was not obligated to reveal them based on “foreign policy considerations.”
“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power,” the State Department said.
The move comes before elections scheduled in DRC for Dec. 23. There are concerns, however, that President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, could delay the vote to seek a third elected term.
The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila.
Sasha Lezhnev, deputy policy director at the nonprofit rights group Enough Project called Thursday’s visa ban an important step “to dissuade Kabila from putting his name on the ballot and help ensure a credible election.”
“Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step,” said Lezhnev. “They or the businesses they partner with also use US banks to process corrupt commercial deals, so the US and EU should enact stronger sanctions on their corporate networks to target their assets.”