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MIDEAST > Deal with Baghdad, not Arbil: Iraq PM to Turkey

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Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki slams Turkey’s recently growing ties with the KRG. AA Photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki slams Turkey’s recently growing ties with the KRG. AA Photo

If Turkey wants to mend its ties with Iraq and maintain good relations with the country, it must deal directly through Baghdad rather than undercutting its authority by pursuing relations directly with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said.

The central government in Iraq rejects Turkey’s efforts to treat the KRG “as if it is an independent state,” al-Maliki said in a statement Aug. 11. If Turkey wants to maintain good regional relations it must do so through Iraq, al-Maliki said, according to Associated Press.

Al-Maliki’s remarks came after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made a side trip to the disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk without first informing Baghdad. The visit incensed Iraqi authorities and brought already-chilly ties between Baghdad and Ankara to a new low. In July, a Kurdish official said the region had begun to export oil to Turkey without Baghdad’s permission, a move which the Iraqi central government deemed “illegal.”

Baghdad and Arbil are currently at odds over issues including the KRG’s refusal to seek approval from the central government for oil contracts it has awarded to foreign firms, as well as over a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq.

Joint position against sectarian conflicts

Turkey has for months hosted Iraq’s fugitive Sunni Arab vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, who is wanted on charges of running a death squad and is being tried in absentia. Al-Hashemi was granted a residence permit by Turkish authorities to avoid visa problems during his trips.

Davutoğlu met with representatives of Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims over a fast-breaking meal in Istanbul on Aug. 11. All sides agreed to take a joint position against the sectarian tension present in the region.

“We have agreed that Shiite and Sunni religious scholars take a joint position against sectarian tensions that some are trying to fuel in the Middle East,” Davutoğlu told reporters after his meeting with the chairman of the Sunni Endowment, Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor, and the chairman of the Shiite Endowment, Salih Haidari, Anatolia news agency reported.

August/13/2012

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Murat

8/13/2012 3:32:16 PM

Maliki should first control its borders, then he may have a leg to stand on. It was not Turkey that created an independent Kurdistan in the North. It was not Turkey that supported his sectarian policies that divided Iraq. He made his bed.

Sylvia Walter

8/13/2012 11:43:45 AM

Zero problem policy has now suddenly become 101 problems for Turkey fueled by fast deteriorating foreign diplomacy i.e. amongst others the French Armenian-bill row; more so specifically with its neighbors i.e taking sides in Syria and threatening it’s sovereignty, by dealing with an illegitimate arbil inside Iraq straining relations with central government, and not forgetting the recent hostile approach towards Iran & Israel and what a surprise now with EU! Time to re-evaluate its Foreign policy

two sides to every coin

8/13/2012 8:35:08 AM

What would Turkey do if Iraq started doing business directly with the Kurds in Diyarbakir without the backing from Ankara. Strange when most Turks refuse to say there is a Kurdistain. now AKP are doing business with the same people that AKP say are terrorists. Money from oil or gas is king and the daily press of PKK ans Kurds in Northern Iraq being the same is swept under the carpet when it suits the government. Talk about two faced.

Hakan C

8/13/2012 2:35:04 AM

The moment Maliki stops being Iran's puppet, stops insulting and taking Turkey for granted, is the time Turkey will reciprocate the appropriate gestures...

Aryeh Rapaport

8/13/2012 1:04:08 AM

On one hand Turkey is happy to have oil exported to and through her while on other hand dealing with Iraqs central government may result with less favorable agreements.. Furthermore at end of day Kurds control that area and not Iraq central government. Turkey also needs to ask herself if she changes sides to Iraqi central govt will Kurds in northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey unite and become a serious force to reckon with. What will Turkey do?
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