TURKEY

Iraqi Turkmens not forsaken: Turkish nationalist party

IRAQI TURKMENS NOT FORSAKEN: TURKISH NATIONALIST PARTY

Following the illegitimate referendum in northern Iraq, the leader of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said Wednesday that Turkey would not forsake the ethnic Iraqi Turkmens in the region in the face of possible ethnic violence.

In a statement, Devlet Bahceli slammed Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), for holding Monday's illegitimate referendum, and so pushing the region to the brink of conflict.

"From now on, nothing will be same as it was before Sept. 25," said Bahceli, referring to Monday's illegitimate vote.

"At least 5,000 volunteer nationalists are ready to step in particularly in Kirkuk and the Turkmen cities [in northern Iraq] for their struggle for existence," he added, referring to MHP-affiliated nationalist groups.

The illegitimate referendum saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including ethnically mixed Kirkuk and Mosul -- vote on whether or not to declare independence.

Numerous Turkmen, Arab, and Christian groups living in disputed areas of Iraq boycotted the illegitimate referendum.

Bahceli said that they would never forsake the Turkmens in northern Iraq in the face of danger.

"The Turkmens are not alone or ownerless, and they will never be left to any agonizing ethnic genocide or statelessness. Our decision is exact, our standing is clear, and our word is our bond."

In recent days, Ankara has launched a military exercise across the border from KRG territory and threatened restrictions at the main frontier crossing.

Along with Iraq's central government, Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the UN have spoken out against Monday's illegitimate poll, warning it would distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

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