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Published On: Sun, Jan 8th, 2017

Iraq’s Barzani and Turkey Agree on Fighting Turkey’s PKK

nsnbc : Massoud Barzani, the President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, and Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, agreed to cooperate in combating terrorism, including militants of Turkey’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The agreement was reached only one day after Turkey agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

yildirim_barzani_erbil_iraq_jan-2017Massoud Barzani, the controversial “President” of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government announced on Sunday that his government is prepared to boost its cooperation with Turkey in all aspects; especially in combating the threat of terrorism.

Other aspects of increased cooperation include broadening economic and trade ties, said Barzani after a meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yilirim. Speaking at a joint press conference with Yildirim in Erbil, Barzani said:

“We are all facing terrorism threats that are in need of mutual cooperation in order for them to vanish. … We are ready to upgrade our cooperation in all aspects”. Barzani noted that the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has suffered colossal military defeats and territorial losses in the Kurdish region of Iraq and that Kurdish Peshmerga forces have managed to push back ISIL from the region.”

Turkish PM Binali Yildirim, for his part, stated that cooperation in counter-terrorism also includes joint efforts against the Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK) as well as the Gülenist Hizmet movement which runs a network of schools around the world. Yildirim said:

“It is the duty of Turkey and the Kurdistan Region to deal with threats of PKK, Islamic State and the Hizmet Movement. … We will do every possible thing to bring this to an end. We can’t accept this terrorist organization spreading more in the western region, like in Sinjar, we can’t allow them to base there. This is an issue we can’t accept at all. … We can’t accept the attacks that the PKK launched from Iraqi territory against our country”.

al-abadi_yildirim_baghdad_iraq_jan-2016The meeting between Barzani and Yildirim came only one day after Yildirim and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi agreed that Turkey would withdraw its troops from Iraq. The announcement about the agreement was made on Iraqi State television after a meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Baghdad. Very few details about the agreement were announced to the public or made available to the press. However, Turkey reportedly agreed to the Iraqi demand to withdraw Turkish forces from the town of Bashiqa near Mosul in northern Iraq.

Turkish troops have been stationed there since December 2015, purportedly as part of the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). However, as a source close to the recently reelected Lebanese PM Saad Hariri revealed to nsnbc international, Turkish government circles have been actively involved in stating the invasion of Iraq by ISIL. The very well connected Lebanese source met nsnbc international editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann and provided evidence that underpinned that the final green light for the war on Iraq with ISIS or ISIL brigades was given behind closed doors, at the sidelines of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 22 – 23, 2013.

KDP – PKK Rivalries and Geopolitics

IN 2015 Turkey’s AKP government unilaterally ended a ceasefire and peace talks with the PKK and resumed military operations against the PKK. Peace talks had at that time progressed so much that the PKK, which initially insisted on an independent Kurdish State, was ready to settle for some form of autonomy or regional self-determination and “recognition of Kurds” as a people.

Turkey also resumed air strikes against PKK fighters in northern Iraq. While there has been some sporadic cooperation between the PKK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Barzani, it has been based on utilitarianism. The dispute reflects the old (and new) cold war hegemonies.

The KDP is relying heavily on support from the United States, Turkey, the PKK has enjoyed more than just sympathies from Moscow since it launched its armed insurrection in Turkey in 1984. The PKK also enjoys some support from Iran, and it is a traditional ally of the Syrian – Kurdish PYD and its military wings, the YPG and YPJ. Both the PKK and the PYD are part of Russia’s and Syria’s geopolitical calculus for the case of a conflict with Turkey or NATO.

NATO members, especially Turkey and the USA, for their part, have long perceived the KDP as an ally for the “Balkanization” of Iraq and as a springboard into northern Iran. The KDP is an ally of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran (KDP-I) which mainly operates out of northern Iraq. However, clashes between KDP-I fighters and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard units in northwestern Iran have increased in number and intensity since the summer of 2016.

It is noteworthy that Iraq’s Kurdish President Barzani has extended his term and delayed elections, and recently announced that elections in northern Iraq would be delayed again due to security concerns and the war against terrorism.

CH/L – nsnbc 08.01.2017

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