Iraq’s Abadi takes anti-PKK stance before Yıldırım’s visit
REUTERS photoIraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has taken a strong stance against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) using Iraq’s territory to attack Turkey, on the eve of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s key visit aiming to mend bilateral ties.
“We cannot accept the PKK’s use of Iraqi soil to launch attacks against Turkey. Our constitution also does not allow such things,” al-Abadi said at a press conference, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan 4.
His words ahead of Yıldırım’s expected visit to Baghdad and Arbil over the weekend.
Ties between Iraq and Turkey soured after Baghdad condemned the latter’s establishment of a military camp in Bashiqa, near Mosul, to train local Sunni groups fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey and Iraq summoned their respective ambassadors on Oct. 5, 2016, after the two sides exchanged bitter recriminations regarding Turkish troops’ presence in the region.
Yıldırım’s visit comes after exchange of positive messages between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and al-Abadi last week. Yıldırım is expected to meet al-Abadi in the Iraqi capital before moving to Arbil, where he will also meet Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani. KRG officials had recently vowed to take action against PKK elements in the Sinjar region.
Commenting on Yıldırım’s visit to Baghdad, al-Abadi said the visit would come as a part of the efforts to strengthen mutual relations.
“We want to strengthen our political, security, economic and trade relations with all states including Turkey,” he said.
Ankara first approached Baghdad on Oct. 17 in a bid to restore ties after a Turkish delegation presented a draft to Iraqi officials during a visit to Baghdad.
A move expected to resolve Bashiqa issue
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News ahead of Yıldırım’s visit, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said the Bashiqa military camp will also be on the leaders’ agenda.
“We are going to introduce a proposal to ease [their concerns]. But there will be no withdrawal of troops,” Kurtulmuş said, stressing that troops will only be withdrawn when there is no longer any necessity and citing the PKK’s presence in Iraq’s Sinjar province.
Kurtulmuş also cited the ongoing anti-ISIL operation in Mosul, underlining that an alliance with the Iraqi government on Mosul should also be crafted.
“An alliance on Mosul with the Iraqi government should be made with a new approach. We should pave the way for steps to be taken to secure the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria. That is the right direction to be taken for Turkey’s national security,” he added.