Al-Maliki gov’t slams FM’s suprise Kirkuk visit
Turkey’s relations with the al-Maliki become strained following a recent war of words between Turkish and Iraqi officials.The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has sharply criticized a visit by Turkey’s foreign minister to Iraq’s Kirkuk province, saying the ministry had neither been informed of or approved the trip.
“It is not in the interest of Turkey, or any other party, to underestimate national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations by not complying with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials,” a statement on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry’s website read yesterday. “All of this was done without the knowledge or approval of the Foreign Ministry and without going through the official and diplomatic channels to organize the visit.”
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made a side trip to Kirkuk while visiting northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), whose leader has long been involved in a dispute with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This first-ever visit to Kirkuk by a Turkish foreign minister was kept confidential for security reasons, Turkish officials have claimed. Following a meeting with KRG President Masoud Barzani late on Aug. 1, Davutoğlu visited Kirkuk yesterday, delivering a message of unity for all of Iraq during his historic visit to the oil-rich northern Iraqi town.
Syria a topic of discussion
“Kirkuk’s unity and fraternity is Iraq’s unity and fraternity. In Kirkuk, Turkmens, Kurds and Arabs have lived together for centuries and will live in peace forever. And we will live together in peace with our Iraqi brothers regardless of their Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen or Christian identities,”
Davutoğlu told reporters, whom he greeted in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic after a meeting with Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Kareem. The foreign minister also visited the Iraqi Turkmen Front. “I am happy to be the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Kirkuk in 75 years,” Davutoğlu tweeted yesterday. Turkey and the KRG also declared that they would take a stand against any terrorist organizations in Syria.
The new Syria should be free of any terrorist and extremist group or organization, a joint press statement released after Davutoğlu’s and Barzani’s meeting said.
“They also emphasized that any attempt to exploit the power vacuum by any violent group or organization will be considered a common threat, which should be jointly addressed,” the statement read, apparently in reference to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which may have ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The situation in Syria was the focus of the meeting, and after the meeting the two leaders made statements underlining that the actions of the Syrian regime and its policy of provoking sectarian and ethnic conflict within the country will further deteriorate the situation.