Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during an interview with Reuters in Ankara February 8, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Iraq Reviews Turkish Relations After Minister's Visit to Kurdistan

Author: Azzaman (Iraq) Posted August 8, 2012

The Iraqi government decided to review Iraqi-Turkish relations against the backdrop of the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Kirkuk without the consent of the Baghdad-based central government.

SummaryPrint Iraq will reconsider its relations with Turkey following a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Kirkuk, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, report Ali Ltaif and Turkan Ali. Davutoglu did not receive approval for his visit from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.
Author Ali Ltaif and Turkan Ali Posted August 8, 2012
Translator(s)Sami-Joe Abboud

Maysoon al-Damluji praised the participation of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq in a meeting held yesterday [August 7] by the Iraqi government and chaired by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mutlaq had been boycotting the government for several months after having accused Maliki of dictatorship.

A statement made by the Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that the government decided during the meeting to form a committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani. This committee will include Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and representatives of the ministers of foreign affairs, interior minister, transport minister and the National Intelligence Service. It will also include adviser to the Prime Minister for Legal Affairs.

The statement said that the committee will investigate the circumstances of the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister to Kirkuk and make recommendations to the cabinet, stressing that this will take place during a governmental meeting to be held as soon as possible.

The Iraqi government also decided yesterday to form a high-level committee to study the circumstances of the recent visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the city of Kirkuk without the consent of Baghdad.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the visit by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Iraq, during which he met with the leadership of the Kurdish region, was very helpful and conveyed their messages.

Selcuk Unal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mentioned in his response to reporters' questions on Twitter that Ankara would like to see a unified Iraq of all sects, races and minorities, thus contributing to the stability and development of the country at a time when Turkey's interests in the region converge with the stability it is seeking in Iraq.

Unal said that this visit also comes in the framework of coordination between Ankara and the administration of Northern Iraq, following the recent visits made by a number of administration officials, most notably Massoud Barzani, from the region to Turkey. He pointed out that Davutoglu's visit to Kirkuk was both historic and cultural.

He added that the stability of Kirkuk is a model for Iraq, pointing out that Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs and the people of Kirkuk were happy with his visit, as Ankara is working toward stability and peace in the city.

Commenting on the developments related to the PKK, deemed a terrorist party by Ankara, the EU and the US, Unal said that the government is determined to sever all of the organization's external links, saying that this is what prompted it to explore ways to eradicate terrorism in the country.

A government spokesperson stated that the cabinet decided yesterday to form a committee to investigate the circumstances of the visit of the Turkish foreign minister to Kirkuk and make recommendations to the cabinet as soon as possible.

The statement added that the committee will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani. This committee will include Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and representatives of the minister of foreign affairs, the interior minister, the transportation minister and the National Intelligence Service. It will also include an adviser to the prime minister for legal affairs.

In a rare and surprising move for a Turkish official, Davutoglu visited Kirkuk last week, north of Baghdad, and had visited Erbil, where he met with president of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani.

In the oil-rich city which is home to about 900,000 people from the entire spectra of the Iraqi society, Davutoglu met with local officials amid tight security measures carried out by police and Kurdish forces.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the visit to the disputed province was conducted without obtaining permission in advance from Baghdad.

However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended on August 5 the visit to Kirkuk.

Erdogan said it was normal for a minister who has a red diplomatic passport to visit an administrative region in Northern Iraq and then travel to Kirkuk, which is only 40 km away from Erbil, to see his relatives.

Davutoglu's visit to Kirkuk has deepened the tension witnessed by the diplomatic relations between the two neighbors as a result of the events in Syria, Ankara's reception of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi judiciary, and the raids launched by Turkish warplanes against PKK sites in Northern Iraq.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/08/baghdad-reviews-its-relations-wi.html

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