ISTANBUL, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government of “treachery” for pursuing an independence referendum and warned that Iraqi Kurds would starve when Turkey blocks its trucks from crossing the border.
The comments were some of the harshest yet from Erdogan about Monday’s referendum in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Turkey sees the vote as a threat to its national security and fears it will inflame separatism among its own Kurdish population.
“Until the very last moment, we weren’t expecting Barzani to make such a mistake as holding the referendum, apparently we were wrong,” Erdogan said, referring to Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani.
“This referendum decision, which has been taken without any consultation, is treachery.”
Erdogan, whose comments were broadcast live on television, again threatened to cut off the pipeline that carries oil from northern Iraq to the outside world. (Reporting by Daren Butler and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by David Dolan)