Turkish leaders meet for second time in week with Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani
Sevil Erkuş - ISTANBUL
DHA photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani on Feb. 26 for the second time in a week.
Barzani and Turkish officials’ frequent meetings come amid evolving plans for the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, and a new deal between Tehran and Baghdad for the transfer of energy resources in Kirkuk to world markets through Iran. Barzani seeks support from the U.S. and some European countries for his resumed plans to set a referendum on the KRG’s independence from Baghdad.
The Iraqi Kurdish leader is also expected to meet Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in Ankara on Feb. 27.
The two sides are expected to discuss a plan to deploy Syrian Kurdish fighters, dubbed as the Rojava peshmargas, in areas where Kurds are concentrated the most in Syria. With the help of Barzani and Turkey, the Rojava peshmargas were formed by the Syrian Kurdish National Assembly. However, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) has blocked the 7,000-fighter group from entering lands controlled by them. The U.S. does not yet support the deployment of the Rojava peshmarga fighters in Syria due to concerns of possible clashes with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the PYD’s military wing.
Recently, meetings have been held between YPG and KRG officials about the status of Rojava peshmargas that would cross into Syria.
Barzani, ahead of his visit to Turkey, had called on the Turkish government to release detained lawmakers and the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In an interview with German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Barzani said Erdoğan was a powerful politician, while urged Turkey to release the detained HDP lawmakers for the sake of a peace process.