Huseyin Bagci, a foreign relations expert at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara (ODTU), mentioned the mutually-beneficial relationship which had until very recently existed between Turkey and the Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq.
Ankara had previously provided across-the-board support for the KRGI, building up the autonomy’s infrastructure and even paying salaries to local state workers.
“We are talking about more than 35,000 people working at more than 1,500 local companies and mutual assurances of friendship coming from Ankara and Erbil. Then comes the referendum and, almost overnight, the KRGI is seen by Turkey as an enemy. This is not what I call a balanced and sensible policy,” Bagci said in an interview with Sputnik Turkey.
“But even so, Ankara would have no legal right to intervene because this is a domestic Iraqi affair. Turkey could intervene if asked to by Baghdad, but this is highly unlikely. Turkey could use economic sanctions, but they would backfire. In any case, Ankara will not intervene militarily because this would mean a direct confrontation with America and Israel which support the KRGI,” Huseyin Bagci said.
He added that that despite its angry rhetoric, Ankara will have to engage in lengthy political horse-trading with Barzani who has been a close partner for too long to be ignored.
“Neither side is now in a position to become enemies,” Huseyin Bagci concluded.
Iraqi authorities said that the referendum was not legitimate and stressed that they would not conduct talks with the authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan on the issue of the vote.
Russia supports Iraq's territorial integrity and calls for both Baghdad and Erbil to resolve all their disagreements by peaceful means.