Iraq bans gold imports via airports in KRG

Move is one of several retaliatory measures by Baghdad following last month’s illegitimate poll on regional independence

Ersin Çelik
17:23 - 10/10/2017 Tuesday
Update: 17:24 - 10/10/2017 Tuesday
File photo
File photo

The Iraqi authorities on Tuesday banned the import of gold and other precious metals through airports in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.

In a statement, Iraq’s Planning Ministry announced that gold and other precious metals could henceforth only be imported into Iraq through the international airports in Baghdad and Najaf.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, ministry spokesman Abdul Zohra al-Hendawi said that gold and other metals had previously entered Iraq mainly through the Sulaymaniyah and Erbil international airports, both of which are located in the Kurdish region.

“The ministry’s economic committee has decided that, from now on, only Iraq’s Baghdad and Najaf airports will be used for the import of gold and other precious metals,” al-Hendawi said.

The decision, he added, was aimed at preventing the “illegal import” of gold into the country.

The move comes as part of a raft of recent measures taken by Baghdad against the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in response to last month’s illegitimate referendum on Kurdish regional independence.

On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Along with other retaliatory measures, Iraq’s Council of Ministers on Monday announced that legal procedures were now underway against all KRG employees involved in holding last month’s illegitimate poll.

In the referendum’s immediate aftermath, Baghdad also moved to ban all international flights into KRG-controlled areas and closed all foreign diplomatic missions based in the region.

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