Turkish Foreign Minister Calls on Iraq to Curb PKK Activities

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, has called on the Iraqi government to officially designate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a “terrorist” organization, aligning with Turkey and its Western allies. Fidan’s visit to Baghdad aimed to prepare for an upcoming trip by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During his visit, Fidan emphasized the PKK’s threat to both countries and urged Iraq not to tolerate the PKK challenging its sovereignty. He highlighted regions like Sinjar, Makhmour, Qandil, and Sulaimaniyah that have been occupied by the PKK.

The issue of Turkish air attacks in northern Iraq and its impact on Iraqi sovereignty has been a point of contention between Baghdad and Ankara. Despite Turkey’s claims that it aims to counter a force that has “occupied” parts of Iraq, Baghdad has consistently protested against these attacks.

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Turkish intelligence recently reported the neutralization of a PKK member in Sulaimaniyah who had been training for assassinations against Turkish security forces. Fidan, a former intelligence chief, is scheduled to visit northern Iraq for discussions with Kurdish officials.

The PKK, categorized as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States, initiated an armed rebellion in southeastern Turkey in 1984, resulting in significant casualties. Turkey also targets the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers the Syrian branch of the PKK.

Although the Iraqi foreign minister did not directly address Baghdad’s stance on the PKK, tensions surrounding the issue have escalated recently due to increased combat between Kurdish fighters and Turkey in northern Iraq and Syria. This topic is anticipated to be prominent when Erdogan visits Iraq, with concerns about oil exports to Turkey and disputes over oil revenues between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government.

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In 2014, the Kurdish region independently exported oil to Turkey’s Ceyhan to generate revenue, sparking disagreements between Baghdad and Erbil. Earlier this year, the International Chamber of Commerce ruled that Ankara violated a treaty with Baghdad by allowing the Kurdish government to independently export oil. In response, Turkey shut down the pipeline used by the Kurdish government for oil pumping.

Kurdish officials are negotiating with the new administration in Baghdad to reach a new agreement regarding oil revenues. Concurrently, an Iraqi delegation led by the oil minister is engaging in discussions in Turkey.

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