Turkey does not buy Iraqi PM’s olivebranch

Turkey does not buy Iraqi PM’s olivebranch

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey does not buy Iraqi PM’s olivebranch

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during a mass ceremony. REUTERS photo

Ankara is insisting that the Iraqi prime minister implement a power-sharing deal within the Iraqi government first, as the U.S. urges rapprochement between Ankara and Baghdad.

In a recent visit to Iraq, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had advised Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to improve relations with Turkey.

Prior to Kerry’s second visit to Turkey on April 7, al-Maliki posted a statement on his official website saying, “We are pleased to welcome every step that will bring us closer to Turkey within the framework of mutual interests and respect,” softening months of hostile rhetoric fuelled by Ankara’s engagement with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

The possibility of a rapprochement between Ankara and al-Maliki was again an issue in the talks with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, during his latest visit to Istanbul.

The Turkish side stressed to the U.S. secretary of state that the problem with al-Maliki was not a bilateral dispute or a personal matter, but a problem derived from al-Maliki’s tendancy to exclude his political rivals from the Iraqi administration.

During the meeting with Kerry, the Turkish side said that when al-Maliki made a statement professing his will for closer relations with Ankara, at the same time the Iraqi prime minister issued an arrest warrant for former Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi, which Ankara considered to be an indication that al-Maliki had not changed his mind about his ultimate goal of trimming down the government to just his supporters instead of national unity coalitions.