Iraqi Kurdish leader to visit Turkey to discuss anti-ISIL coordination
Iraq's Kurdistan region's President Massoud Barzani speaks during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Erbil, Iraq December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Azad LashkariIraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani will visit Turkey on Dec. 9 to discuss coordination in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as the recent rift between Turkey and Iraq over the deployment of Turkish forces on Iraqi soil.
“We will discuss all the issues in detail, but more time will be spent on what Ankara’s role in the fight against ISIL will be after NATO and other powers have lent support to Turkey,” said Barzani on Dec. 8 during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in KRG capital Arbil.
Barzani said “there is an agreement between Baghdad and Ankara about deploying Turkish forces near Mosul,” adding that he thought reactions over the matter were “exaggerated.”
Turkey on Dec. 4 deployed around 150 Turkish troops to replace forces already in the area as part of a training program for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Along with the troops, 20 to 25 tanks were also dispatched to the area.
Turkish army sources said on Dec. 5 that they had been training fighters in four provinces of northern Iraq with the ultimate aim of fighting ISIL.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had announced on Dec. 7 that Barzani would visit Turkey on Dec. 9. The visit was planned before tension erupted between Baghdad and Ankara over the latter’s move to send additional troops to Mosul to train local Iraqi Sunni guards, Çavuşoğlu added.
The visit was earlier scheduled for Dec. 4 but it was postponed after controversy flared over Turkey’s deployment of troops to Mosul.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Dec. 7 that only 24 hours remained of the 48 hours that Baghdad gave Turkey to remove its forces. He also challenged Ankara to present any evidence it has showing Baghdad’s knowledge or consent about the deployment of the Turkish forces.