Olive branch from Ankara to Baghdad

Olive branch from Ankara to Baghdad

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Olive branch from Ankara to Baghdad


Ankara has sought to reopen channels of dialogue with Baghdad amidst escalating tension between the two neighbors, as Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu invited his counterpart to Turkey for political negotiations.

The two parties should discuss the issues between Ankara and Baghdad, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.

Sinirlioğlu extended the invitation during a meeting with Iraq’s ambassador to Ankara, Abdulemir Kamil Abi-Tabikh, as part of the political consultation mechanism between Turkey and Iraq, said a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry late Sept. 14. There has been no reply to Ankara’s invitation as yet, the official said Sept. 16.

Turkey’s move came after the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish ambassador to Baghdad Yunus Demirer last week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent an envoy to Ankara in April to convey his willingness to repair political ties, but the trend was halted when Baghdad responded harshly to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani’s visit to Turkey, on which he displayed a joint front against the al-Maliki government.

Relations between Iraq, which is close to Shiite Iran, and Sunni Muslim regional power Turkey, became strained at the end of last year, when Iraq issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who fled to shelter in Turkey. Ankara has maintained its support for al-Hashemi, even as an Iraqi court recently sentenced the fugitive vice president to death in absentia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited Kirkuk, Iraq in August, an area whose control is disputed between Iraq’s Arab-led central government and ethnic Kurdish officials, without informing Baghdad, infuriating Iraq and bringing relations to a new low.