Turkey, Iraq to mull over joint actions against KRG’s independence bid

Turkey, Iraq to mull over joint actions against KRG’s independence bid

Serkan Demirtaş- ANKARA
Turkey, Iraq to mull over joint actions against KRG’s independence bid

Turkey and Iraq will hold talks over the weekend at the prime ministerial-level in Baghdad in order to coordinate measures to be taken against the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) independence bid, including oil and economic trade sanctions.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım is expected to travel to Baghdad over the weekend to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and other senior officials, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 12.

Before Yıldırım’s visit, the undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ümit Yalçın, paid a snap visit to meet his counterparts in Baghdad to accomplish necessary preparations for the meeting of the two prime ministers. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, for his part, is also expected to go to Baghdad a day before Yıldırım’s visit.

Yıldırım is expected to be accompanied by the foreign, energy and trade ministers along with other officials on his Baghdad trip where all aspects of bilateral relations as well as joint actions against the independence bid of the Iraqi Kurds will be discussed.

After the talks, a joint communiqué is also expected to be released, which will highlight the two sides’ commitment to the protection of territorial integrity, political unity and the constitutional order of the Iraqi state. It is also expected to highlight Ankara and Baghdad’s intention to develop existing ties through boosting economic, energy and political ties.

A key issue Iraq and Turkey will work on is the ways in which oil trade between the two countries will be coordinated by bypassing the Arbil government.

Turkey has told the KRG it could suspend its oil trade as well as close the Habur border gate, however, diplomatic sources underlined the need to consult with the Iraqi government before implementing such measures. All potential actions need to be discussed through their conformity with the constitutional and legal obligations, the sources said.

“We said we will implement a number of measures against the KRG but we also made clear that we will take all these measures in coordination with the Iraqi central government,” the sources said.

In order not to cut the entire traffic from Turkey into Iraq, there is the need to open a new border gate that would be under the control of the Iraqi central government, Ankara has long been saying, recalling that the infrastructure works for the Ovaköy border gate is yet to be completed although the two countries had in the past agreed on it.

Turkey eyes withdrawal of Iraqi complaint on oil trade

The two countries will also discuss how a measure on oil trade could be imposed on the KRG. Diplomatic sources recall that Iraq had filed an international arbitration against Turkey after Turkish companies made deals with the KRG in 2010 to import crude oil and underline Ankara’s expectation from Baghdad to withdraw its appeal from court.

Turkey has been importing crude oil from the KRG ever since Arbil and Baghdad failed to agree on revenue sharing of oil exports.

In a recent move, Iraq has announced its decision to increase the volume of oil being transported through the Kirkuk-Yumurtalık pipeline from the current 120,000 barrels a day to 400,000 barrels a day.