BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government gave the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) until Friday 3:00 p.m (1200 GMT) to hand over control of its airports in order to avoid an international air embargo, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, according to state TV.
The measure is meant as a retaliation against the independence referendum held by the KRG in northern Iraq on Monday.
Domestic flights are not involved in the ultimatum and in the worst case, international travel to and from the KRG will be re-routed through Baghdad and other Iraqi airports.
Baghdad last week asked foreign countries to stop direct flights to the international airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniya, in KRG territory, but only Iran declared such an air embargo, halting direct flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Humanitarian and “emergency” flights are exempted, provided they are pre-approved by Baghdad, Abadi said.
Baghdad will also ask neighboring countries to shut the border with Iraqi Kurdistan if the KRG doesn’t hand over border posts to the central government by Friday.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by; Larry King