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Turkey’s threat of sanctions against Iraqi Kurds rattles its own traders

The economic sanctions that Turkey threatens against the Iraqi Kurds have sparked anxiety inside its own borders, where many depend on bilateral trade to make a living.

SILOPI, Turkey — In a barrage of warnings to Iraqi Kurds over their independence vote, Turkey has threatened a series of sanctions, including the closing of the Habur border crossing between the two sides, a key economic lifeline for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Whatever worries the warning may have sparked in the KRG, jitters are running high on the Turkish side of the border where millions rely on the Habur route to make a living.

As Iraqi Kurds went to the polls Sept. 25, Turkish tanks maneuvered at a stone’s throw from the border, outside the town of Silopi, fueling apprehension among local Turkish Kurds and drivers on their way to and from Iraq. “What will happen to Habur?” three young men anxiously queried reporters, fresh from a drive to Iraqi Kurdistan with a stash of cheap cigarettes to resell at home.

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