Erbil says foodstuff sufficient as neighbors escalate economic threats

A general view shows the Citadel of Erbil in Erbil, Iraq April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Baghdad (  Erbil authorities have assured they are holding food supplies enough for six months as neighboring countries opposed to Kurdistan independence from Iraq mount economic threats.

Erbil mayor Nabaz Abdulhamid was quoted saying in press statements on Tuesday that there were no fears for the availability of food supplies as a result of planned border closures announced by neighboring governments.

“We have convened with a number of Erbil merchants, and we assure citizens that we possess a six-month stock,” Abdulhamid said.

“Until this moment, merchandises are entering Kurdistan through borders without any trouble. All outlets are open and aviation proceeds normally,” he said.

Kurds headed to polling stations on Monday to vote in a referendum on independence from Iraq that is rejected by the Arab-led central government in Baghdad, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and regional powers Turkey and Iran.

Kurdistan gained actual autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.

Holding the vote has triggered a regional outcry, Baghdad demanding world countries to approach it regarding airports and borders controlled by Erbil. Iran closed aviation with Kurdistan, and has also warned that holding the referendum would mean a closure of borders with Kurdistan and an abrogation of security cooperation. Turkish President Recep Erdogan also threatened on Tuesday of economic sanctions on Kurdistan that would make its citizens “starve”, including a blocking of oil pipelines and cross-border trade.

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