Turkey, Iraq to take anti-PKK measures without delay: PM

Turkey, Iraq to take anti-PKK measures without delay: PM

Turkey, Iraq to take anti-PKK measures without delay: PM

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Turkey and Iraq will coordinate and take measures without delay against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) presence on Iraqi soil, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, while reiterating that Ankara would take necessary action to remove the PKK from Sinjar if Iraq and the Peshmerga do not.

“The PKK’s presence in Sinjar province is a matter of national security for Turkey. We have discussed this issue at length. Either the Iraq and Peshmerga forces will remove the PKK from there or Turkey will do whatever is necessary,” he told reporters late Jan. 8. 

Yıldırım was in Baghdad on Jan. 7 where he met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and in Arbil on Jan. 8 to hold talks with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and other officials. In both meetings, the fight against terrorism and promoting bilateral economic and energy cooperation were at the top of the agenda. 

Both al-Abadi and Barzani underlined that Iraqi soil would not be used by terrorist organizations against Turkey and vowed to fight jointly against the PKK’s presence in the Sinjar province of Iraq.

“A new era has begun in the Iraq-Turkey relationship. We will jointly evaluate all issues concerning our economic, political and security issues within the frame of a good neighborly climate. We will get measures to end terrorist structures in our region without delay and within a certain coordination,” he said. 

‘Bashiqa an Iraqi camp’

Another critical issue between Ankara and Baghdad concerns the Turkish military camp in Bashiqa, near Mosul, where scores of local Sunnis have been trained against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iraq has long urged an immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the camp, as it regards the issue as a violation of its sovereignty. 

“It’s of course an Iraqi camp. It’s based on Iraqi territory and cannot be seen as being disconnected from the Iraqi government. This camp will continue to do its duty successfully and when conditions permit, we will talk about it and resolve it in a friendly way,” Yıldırım said.

Asked whether Turkish troops would be withdrawn, Yıldırım said Turkey’s presence there was not arbitrary but one borne by necessity. “What’s the necessity? Saving Mosul from terrorists and our troops in Bashiqa are successfully serving this objective,” he said. 

Ministers visit Bashiqa camp

The prime minister also said Defense Minister Fikri Işık, Health Minister Recep Akdağ and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak had paid a visit to Bashiqa camp to meet Turkish troops and their commanders. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Yıldırım also communicated with Turkish troops and their commanders by phone.