Maliki’s Hashemi-Öcalan analogy irrelevant: Ankara

Maliki’s Hashemi-Öcalan analogy irrelevant: Ankara

ANKARA - Emine Kart
Maliki’s Hashemi-Öcalan analogy irrelevant: Ankara

Peshmarga troops are deployed on the outskirts of Kirkuk in this photo. Iraqi PM al-Maliki calls on Ankara not to intervene in its internal problems. REUTERS photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s likening of the presence of fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi in Turkey to the fictitious presence of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, in Iraq, was “an apples-to-oranges comparison,” Turkish officials say.

“It is an apples-to-oranges comparison and not a legally correct explanation, either. One of them is a person who served as the vice president in his country, and the other one is the leader of an internationally designated terrorist organization. Moreover, Öcalan was tried in line with both national and international law and then imprisoned, while al-Hashemi was not even able to travel in his own country,” Turkish diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

‘If Iraq hosted Öcalan’

Iraq is among the countries that list the PKK as a terrorist organization. Al-Hashemi already left Turkey for Qatar late last month. “Unfortunately, Turkey [welcomes] Iraq’s opposition. [Fugitive Vice President] Tariq al-Hashemi is in Turkey,” Maliki said. “What would happen if I hosted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in Baghdad? How would you feel? Would Turkey and Turkish people accept this?”

Maliki’s controversial remarks came in an interview with the Turkish daily Hürriyet published yesterday, only two days after Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was forced to abandon plans to fly to the northern city of Arbil on Dec. 4 when the central government issued a last-minute decree to block his visit.

Contrary to what al-Maliki suggested in the interview, all procedural processes were properly finalized and an exchange of diplomatic notes for Yıldız’s flight carried out, thus the Iraqi side had no excuse to prevent the minister’s flight, the same sources also noted.

“We wish for the resolution of Iraq’s domestic problems in line with their Constitution and while embracing all segments of Iraqi society,” the sources said in response to al-Maliki’s accusation that Ankara was pursuing a sectarian policy in its country. Al-Maliki also said that Iraq is extending an olive branch if Ankara “does not interfere in Iraq’s politics and domestic affairs.”