Iraqi Kurd leader to pay Turkey visit for terror

Iraqi Kurd leader to pay Turkey visit for terror

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Iraqi Kurd leader to pay Turkey visit for terror

An Iraqi man in Baghdad reads a newspaper, featuring a front page picture of Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi with the word ‘wanted’ above his face, on Dec 20, 2011. AFP photo

The leader of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq Masoud Barzani is set to visit Turkey this week on the heels of a U.S. trip for critical discussions on terrorism and ongoing tension with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, according to a Turkish official.

Barzani last visited Turkey in January, when the two sides made plans to further their cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has camps in territory controlled by Barzani’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The northern Iraqi’s visit comes after fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad, arrived in Istanbul last week. The trip provides another indication of the political unity among Ankara, the Iraqi Kurdish administration and the Sunni leader against Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Hashemi is currently sheltering in the autonomous Kurdish region, which he left for a regional trip including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Barzani was warmly welcomed by the U.S. administration last week, which was also perceived as a warning to al-Maliki’s government in its disputes with the KRG.

Meanwhile, al-Hashemi has said he will stay in Istanbul for “however long is necessary” and that Iraq needs Turkey’s help in solving its political crisis.

Al-Hashemi is currently residing with his family and guards at an apartment in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district. In his temporary residence, al-Hashemi told Turkish daily Milliyet that his country needed him and that he would not allow his opponents to push him aside.

Al-Hashemi: Sunni and Turkmen rights violated
Discussing his meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the weekend, al-Hashemi said they had discussed his situation and that he demanded Turkey conduct “a systematic study” of the political crisis in Iraq. Referring to the deteriorating relations between Baghdad and the KRG, al-Hashemi said Iraqis could not deal with the problem entirely by themselves.

Al-Hashemi also told the daily that the conspiracy against him had a number of elements. “It is a strike on Sunnis and the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc. It is also a message to countries close to me, such as the Gulf States and Turkey,” he said. He also said Sunnis in Iraq faced unequal human rights, while Shiites and Kurds faced inequality in income distribution. Al-Hashemi said he and Barzani had common sensitivities and that both agreed that reforms were needed.

“If al-Maliki does not become open-minded and take the right actions, there are other options on the table. We want proportionate power sharing,” he said.

Al-Hashemi also said Iran was inciting sectarian conflict in the region. “Before, no one was asking anything about one’s [Islamic] sect. Now, when you apply for a job at any ministry, they ask for your sect even at the reception desk.”

Today, the rights of Sunnis and Turkmens are being violated in Iraq, he said, noting that Iran’s regional policy on the issue had to be resisted.