Skip to main content

Turkey’s paradox in Iraq: Weaker because of a weakened Kurdistan

Turkey enjoyed the influence it wielded in Iraq because of its ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government, but it would rather see the KRG fall than risk an independent Iraqi Kurdistan inspiring Turkey's Kurds to seek the same.

The sight was vivid proof of how quickly and dramatically the sands of Middle East politics can shift: the smiling faces of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in front of the cameras Oct. 25, seated under the flags of their respective countries in Erdogan’s pompous palace in Ankara.

It was only a year ago, on Oct. 11, 2016, that Abadi had called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Bashiqa, near Mosul, voicing his worry that “the adventurism of Turks could lead to a regional war.” In response, Erdogan had roared, “You are not my interlocutor, you are not at my level, your quality is not at my level." The president went on to say that the Iraqi premier’s “clamoring from Iraq” wasn't important, warning him to “know your limits.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.