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Turkey’s New Thinking on Iraqi Kurdistan

Semih Idiz writes that Turkey’s relationship with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq shows that Ankara can not only live with an independent Kurdistan, but also cooperate with it, despite the PKK factor.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani (L) meet in Ankara June 3, 2010. Turkey and Iraq already enjoy burgeoning trade and security cooperation, but Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani's first visit to Ankara since the U.S. invasion in 2003 is a breakthrough for regional stability. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS)

The idea of an independent Kurdistan bordering Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, which has been wracked with separatist violence from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for over quarter of a century, would have raised official hackles only a few years back.

During those days, Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani, the current president of Iraq, and Massoud Barzani, the current head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), were objects of Turkish vilification for their alleged backing of the PKK, and its seemingly endless campaign for separation from Turkey in a war that has resulted in over 30,000 deaths to date.

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