Baghdad has heaped pressure on Iraq's Kurds, demanding they cancel their overwhelming vote for independence while Parliament urged the Iraqi central Government to send troops to take control of vital oil fields held by Kurdish forces.
Stepping up efforts to isolate autonomous Kurdish-held northern Iraq, whose people endorsed secession in a referendum on Tuesday that angered neighbouring countries, Baghdad demanded that foreign governments close their diplomatic missions in the Kurdish capital Erbil.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani announced on Wednesday that the "yes" vote had won.
Final results released yesterday showed nearly 93 per cent in favour of independence, and 7.3 per cent against. More than 3.3 million people, or 72 per cent of eligible voters, took part in Tuesday's ballot, according to the electoral commission.
The referendum has stirred fears of a new regional conflict. An Iraqi armed forces delegation headed to neighbouring Iran to co-ordinate military efforts, apparently as part of retaliatory measures taken by the Government in Baghdad.
Iran and Turkey also oppose any move toward Kurdish secession and their armies have started joint exercises near their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days. Iraq and Turkey have also held joint drills.
Foreign airlines began suspending flights to Kurdish airports after the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said yesterday that international flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya would be suspended.
Kurdish authorities rejected Baghdad's demands that they should annul the referendum as a condition for dialogue and hand over control of their international airports.
Kurdish Rudaw TV reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government had offered to hold talks with Baghdad about hosting Iraqi observers at Erbil and Sulaimaniya airports to help defuse the crisis.
Turkey, which has threatened to impose sanctions on the Kurds, said its border with northern Iraq remained open, although it may not remain so.
Home to the region's largest Kurdish population, Turkey has been battling a three-decade insurgency in its largely Kurdish southeast and fears the referendum will inflame separatist tension at home.
For their part, Kurdish leaders in neighbouring Syria said the KRG referendum could bolster their cause for autonomy in negotiations with the Damascus Government. Two meetings so far on the matter had gone nowhere, they told Reuters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who have stressed the need for Iraq's borders to remain unchanged, were to meet in Ankara today.
Russia's interest in the region is growing. Oil major Rosneft is increasing investment in Kurdistan and the Kurds have been developing strong ties with Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned Iraq and the Kurds against taking any steps that might destabilise the Middle East after the referendum.
The Kurds consider the vote to be a historic step in a generations-old quest for a state of their own.
Iraq considers the vote unconstitutional, especially as it was held not only within official KRG territory itself but also on disputed territory held by Kurds elsewhere in northern Iraq.
The United States, major European countries, Turkey and Iran strongly opposed the referendum, which they described as destabilising at a time when all sides are still fighting Isis (Islamic State) militants.