Kurdistan has just overwhelmingly backed a referendum for independence, and the government in Baghdad is going postal:
The Iraqi government escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region on Wednesday, threatening to send troops and seize oil fields there and taking steps to shut down international flights to and from the region.
The moves came in retaliation for a referendum on Monday in which the region, Iraqi Kurdistan, voted decisively to seek independence from Iraq. Kurdish officials announced Wednesday that nearly 93 percent of voters approved the referendum, which aims to create an independent state for the Kurds, an ethnic minority in Iraq.
Iraq’s Parliament asked the country’s prime minister on Wednesday to deploy troops to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, one of several disputed areas held by Kurdish troops but claimed by Baghdad, and to take control of all oil fields in the Kurdish region.
A decision to send troops would be up to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He gave no public indication of his intentions on Wednesday, except to say he wanted “no fighting among the people of the country.”
He also sent a delegation from the Iraqi military to Iran to “coordinate military efforts,” a military statement said.
Iraq has called the vote illegal and has vowed to ignore the results. The vote has also provoked the Kurdish region’s two powerful neighbors, Turkey and Iran.
All three countries have been conducting military exercises near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan this week.
Iraqi aviation authorities notified foreign airlines on Wednesday that it would cancel all permits to land and take off from two international airports in the Kurdish region as of Friday afternoon. The action followed an ultimatum by Prime Minister Abadi on Tuesday for Kurdistan to surrender control of its two international airports or face a shutdown of international flights.
This is going to get very crazy very fast. I honestly expect both Iraq and Turkey to threaten invasion with a reasonable chance of this leading to an actual invasion.
To quote Freddie Dalton Thompson from The Hunt for Red October: