Turkey shuts down office of Talabani’s Kurdish party, expels representative

Turkish government has asked the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to close its office in Ankara and demand that its personnel leave Turkey, Bahruz Galali, the party’s representative to Ankara, has announced on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after he and his family arrived in Suleymaniyeh, Galali  said that there has been a “political crisis” which has nothing to do with the PUK, reported Hurriyet Daily News.  “It was their fault,” he said, accusing the Turkish government over the incident.

Galali, who has been in Turkey for 17 years, left Turkey while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was holding a meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Kubat Talabani and the PUK official Sadi Ahmad Pira late on Wednesday in Arbil.

The incident was related to a security issue in Sulaymaniah regarding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK), Galali added, without giving further details. “Such things have been experienced among states before. But many governments solve problems through diplomatic channels. Unfortunately, this time the Turks went straight for tough diplomacy,” he said.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government’s move to carry out a referendum September 25 on whether to declare formal independence from Iraq would be a wrong after his meeting with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday. Erdoğan has also reportedly expressed Turkey’s discomfort with the US’s support for the PKK/PYD terror group — the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has also said on Wednesday that he will tell Iraqi Kurdish officials that their decision to hold an independence referendum is wrong. Talking to reporters in Baghdad before leaving for Arbil as part of his visit to Iraq, Çavuşoğlu said, “Our expectation from Arbil (Irbil) is clear, that is the cancellation of the referendum, as the interests and future of the Kurds lies in a united Iraq,” Reuters reported. He said he would tell the Iraq Kurdish leaders “once more” that the referendum decision was wrong when he visits Arbil later on Wednesday.

Iraq Kurdistan Regional Government (IKRG) President Massoud Barzani recently announced that the vote on whether to secede from Iraq would be held on September 25. Turkey – which has a large Kurdish population and is battling terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — is strongly opposed to an independent Kurdish state.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s ally Devlet Bahçeli, the chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said on Thursday that next month’s planned independence vote in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq could potentially lead to war. Speaking at an Ankara news conference, Bahceli said Turkey should oppose the referendum which would include Turkmen-populated areas. “This referendum, for Turkey, could be regarded as a casus belli, if need be,” Bahceli said.

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