Turkey wants Iraq to take ‘concrete’ steps against PKK
BAGHDAD – Anadolu Agency
AA photoTurkey wants to see concrete steps from the central Iraqi government against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) presence in the Sinjar district, west of Mosul, the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad has said.
“We want to see the same efforts deployed by the Baghdad government against the presence of PKK which has been nestled in the area for a long time,” Ambassador Fatih Yıldız told Anadolu Agency. “The PKK is exploiting some ethnic groups in the region.”
The ambassador said the Iraqi side was aware of the situation in the region, “but has not taken the steps we expect against the PKK presence in Sinjar so far.”
“This is a process that will require the involvement of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government [KRG] due to the location of Sinjar. We want Iraq, as a whole, to take concrete step to remove this threat from its own territory,” Yıldız said.
The PKK is trying to gain ground in Sinjar amid an ongoing operation to clear the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Mosul.
The group has also sought to establish a foothold in the region that falls to the northeastern mountainous outskirts of Nineveh province, since ISIL was driven out last year by the KRG’s peshmerga and local forces with the help of the U.S.-led coalition.
However, Turkey has expressed concerns about the PKK’s presence there and said it would take precautionary measures, including deploying troops, to prevent the terror group from securing a base in the region.
Referring to the political and economic relationship between Turkey and Iraq, Yıldız said the two countries share a long-standing past.
“These relations, regardless of the current developments, could progress in certain lines, and the dialogue with the Iraqi side has never ended in any period of history,” Yıldız said.
He said Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s visit to Iraq last month initiated new steps to improve Iraq-Turkey bilateral relations.
“The premier’s visit to Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Arbil [on Jan. 7 and 8] was a sign of the importance attached to the relations. The Iraqi side also has the same opinion,” Yıldız added.
Yıldız also said Turkey wanted to be part of the reconstruction process in Mosul, which is currently the scene of a wide-ranging army offensive aimed at recapturing the city from ISIL.
He said the most important task for Iraq would be rebuilding the war-torn city.
“Turkey has informed the Iraqi state on this. The difference between Turkey and other countries is that Turkey knows the region very well,” Yıldız added.
Late last month, the army announced the “total liberation” of eastern Mosul following three months of fighting.
ISIL overran Mosul, along with vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq, in mid-2014.