Kurdish independence vote prompts flight ban
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 9/28/17, 11:28 am
Several Middle Eastern airlines have halted flights to Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, beginning Friday, after Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. The Kurdish electoral commission on Wednesday said more than 92 percent of voters approved the region’s move for independence from Iraq. Tuesday’s referendum took place across the autonomous region’s provinces despite threats from the Iraqi government and concerns communicated by other international leaders. Iraq’s Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to the Kurdish region’s capital, Erbil, and its second largest city, Sulaymaniyah, by Friday evening. Royal Jordanian Airlines, EgyptAir, Qatar Airways, and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines all complied with the flight ban. Turkey also announced Turkish Airlines, AtlasGlobal, and Pegasus would cease flights to the region by Friday evening. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would not respond to the referendum with force, to prevent a fight between Iraqi citizens, but said he will “enforce the rule of the federal authority in the Kurdish region with the power of the constitution.”
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.