(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ERBIL, Iraq - Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Nov. 1, the Erbil-based Rudaw TV said on Tuesday, as the Kurdish leadership cements its case for independence.
A referendum held on Sept. 25 in the country's Kurdish-held northern regions delivered an overwhelming 'yes' for independence, raising fears in Iraq and abroad of ethnic strains and a weakening of a US-backed campaign against Islamic State.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey would impose further sanctions on northern Iraq over the vote. Powerful neighbors Ankara and Tehran fear it could fuel Kurdish separatism within their own borders.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), however, has not declared independence and the elections are for the parliament and presidency of the region, not for an independent state.
Baghdad retaliated to the referendum with an international flights ban on Kurdish airports, while Iran and Turkey launched joint military drills with Iraqi troops at their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Shi'ite Arab-led Iraqi government has rejected a KRG offer to discuss independence. It demanded Kurdish leaders cancel the result of the referendum or face continued sanctions, international isolation and possible military intervention.