As Kurds head to the polls for Monday’s referendum, widely expected to end with an overwhelming majority supporting secession from Iraq, the Iraqi central government is acting quickly to try to cut off Kurdistan from the rest of the world.
The central government issued statements on Sunday requesting that the Kurds hand over all airports within their territory, as well as control over all international border crossings in Iraq’s north.
Perhaps even more importantly, at least in the near-term, Iraqi officials are asking all neighboring countries for exclusivity deals on oil exports, which if successful would mean that Iraqi Kurdistan could not export its vast oil wealth abroad.
All this points toward Iraq trying to undercut Kurdish independence by maintaining a total stranglehold on all commerce and travel going into and out of the region. Kurdish officials haven’t said if they will comply with the demands.