Iraqi Kurd referendum: Erdogan warns of sanctions hunger

Soldiers hold Turkish and Iraqi national flag during a joint military exercise near the Turkish-Iraqi border (26 September 2017)Image copyright

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Iraqi soldiers joined Turkish troops for exercises on the Turkish side of the border on Tuesday

Turkey's president has said Iraqi Kurds could go hungry as a result of the punitive measures it is considering after Monday's independence referendum.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government of "treachery" for pressing ahead with the vote despite international opposition.

All military and economic options were now "on the table", Mr Erdogan said.

He had previously threatened to cut a vital Kurdish oil export pipeline and stop lorries crossing Turkey's border.

Turkey fears that the emergence of an independent Kurdish state on its border will stoke separatist feeling in its own Kurdish minority.

The results of the referendum are yet to be declared, but a "yes" vote is expected.

Kurdish leaders have said that would not automatically trigger a declaration of independence, but rather give them a mandate to start negotiations on secession with the central government in Baghdad and with neighbouring countries.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ruled out any such talks.

"We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional," he said in a speech on Monday night.

Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.

In Iraq, where they make up an estimated 15% to 20% of the population of 37 million, Kurds faced decades of repression before acquiring autonomy in 1991.