Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to subtly threaten Iraqi Kurds into canceling their independence referendum and warned of global conflict should Iraq and Syria break up. Erdoğan’s main fear is stoking independence fervor among Turkish Kurds.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) is a guerrilla group that has been fighting Turkey to gain an independent Kurdish state. They’ve been using hideouts in northern Iraq from which to wage this three-decade-long war. On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed rumors that the P.K.K. kidnapped two Turkish officers and were holding them in Iraq. P.K.K. leader Cemîl Bayik claimed the pair was sent to assassinate him. Also, Turkey conducted more airstrikes in Iraqi territory.
Although referendum cannot grant independence, it may encourage dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil over certain conflicts. For example, Iraq Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Tuesday that the federal government is now ready to resume discussing oil issues with the Kurdistan Regional Government. Meanwhile, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave Baghdad three days in which to come up with a suitable alternative to the referendum.
Police were deployed throughout Kirkuk after clashes on Monday between celebrating Kurds and Turkmen security guards. Multi-ethnic Kirkuk is not officially part of Iraqi Kurdistan but Kurdish Security forces in 2014 recaptured the city from the Islamic State militants and have been in control since. Its large number of Kurdish residents wish to participate in the referendum.
In Anbar province, security forces have recaptured Rayhana.
At least 64 people were killed and 48 more were wounded:
Two suicide bombers attacked a restaurant in Hajjaj where Shi’ite militiamen often visit. At least three people were killed and 39 more were wounded, but no details were given on whether militiamen were among the casualties. A third militant was shot dead.
One person was killed and four were wounded in a blast in Mishada.
In Mahaweel, a dumped body was found.
A roadside bomb killed a civilian in Kirkuk.
Five Peshmerga were wounded in a blast in Sinjar.
Airstrikes killed 22 militants in Anah and Rayhana.
A dozen militants were killed in an airstrike on Qaim.
Militants in Salah ad Din province executed one of their own.