Turkish top military delegation visits Iraq

Turkish top military delegation visits Iraq

Turkish top military delegation visits Iraq

The Turkish defense minister and the chief of general staff paid an official visit to Baghdad on Jan. 18.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Gen. Yaşar Güler was to meet senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Defense Minister Jouma Anad and Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi, the Defense Ministry said in a written statement.

Combating terrorism and joint cooperation between Turkey and Iraq will be the main focus of discussions during the visit, according to the ministry’s statement.

As a first stop, Akar was welcomed with a military ceremony by his Iraqi counterpart, with whom the minister later met one-on-one before the sides’ delegations held discussions.

Speaking at the meeting, Akar praised the close relations between Turkey and Iraq, while noting that the region was going through a “sensitive” period.

“We can overcome the difficulties in our region together [...] We respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, well-being and prosperity,” Akar said.

Stressing Turkey’s determination to protect its border security and its readiness for all means of cooperation with Iraq, Akar said that this would be critical in fighting the PKK terrorist organization.

Al-Kadhimi paid a one-day official visit to Ankara on Dec.17 to discuss with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about economic and security matters, including combatting the PKK and ISIL and the re-construction of Iraq, trade and energy.

Iraq seeks to collaborate with Turkey against terror groups damaging regional stability, such as Daesh, al-Kadhimi said at a press conference with Erdoğan, adding that Baghdad’s stance was clear when it came to terrorism.

He stated that Iraq could not tolerate any formation that threatens Turkey.

The PKK, which has its headquarters and training camps in different parts of Northern Iraq, is designated a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The central government in Baghdad and the regional government in Arbil have launched a joint effort to wipe out the PKK and other terror groups from the Sinjar region of Iraq.

The Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced in early October 2020 an agreement to eradicate the terrorist groups in Sinjar -- a move welcomed by Turkey. Turkey offered help to Baghdad and Arbil to clear the area from the PKK as well as ISIL, which has a small presence in the area.

The PKK managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in mid-2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from ISIL.