‘Rojava peshmargas’ in Syria offensive on Barzani’s agenda in Turkey visit

‘Rojava peshmargas’ in Syria offensive on Barzani’s agenda in Turkey visit

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
‘Rojava peshmargas’ in Syria offensive on Barzani’s agenda in Turkey visit

AP photo

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani is set to meet senior Turkish officials for the second time in a week in Istanbul on Feb. 26. 

The visit comes after Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on Feb. 20 to study the construction of a pipeline to export crude oil from the northern Iraqi fields of Kirkuk via Iran.

Barzani is expected to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 26 in Istanbul and will travel to Ankara the next day for talks with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. 

Energy, bilateral economic relations, security operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will be discussed, KRG officials told Hürriyet Daily News. 

‘Rojava Peshmerga’ on Syria agenda 

A key topic of discussion between Barzani and the Turkish leaders will be about the ongoing military operations against ISIL; the ongoing offensive in Iraq’s Mosul and the planned military operations in Syria. 

A plan to include Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are described as the “Rojava peshmargas” by Ankara and were earlier trained by Barzani’s Iraqi Kurdish peshmarga forces for operations in Syria, is on the agendas of the two sides, a Turkish official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Hürriyet Daily News. Some of these forces have been trained by the Turkish Armed Forces at the Bashiqa Camp in northern Iraq and they were described as “friendly elements” by Ankara. In 2014, the Syrian peshmargas, who were trained in northern Iraq, fought against ISIL with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Kobane, the official said. 

Oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Iran 

A preliminary agreement between Baghdad and Tehran on the export of Kirkuk oil to world markets via Iran will also be on the agenda of the Iraqi Kurdish leader.

The possible construction of a pipeline to transport the crude oil from Kirkuk through Iran will be assessed by a commission under the supervision of consultancy companies. If the pipeline is built, it will have to pass through KRG territory, according to an Iraqi Petroleum Ministry statement.

Iran wants to pass the pipeline through northern Iraq via the Sinjar region, where Shiite militias in the country are mostly deployed, according to Turkish officials. 

There is a long-standing dispute between the KRG and the Baghdad administration as well as among Kurdish parties in Iraq regarding northern Iraq’s oil resources. Currently, Kirkuk’s petroleum is pipelined to Turkey’s Ceyhan district and exported to world markets under the supervision of the KRG.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has met with Barzani and invited him to Tehran, while Donald Trump’s administration has recently put increased pressure on Iran, which is expected to be an important agenda in his talks in Turkey.