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Turkey poised to open a military front in Iraq

Improved relations between Iraq and Turkey have raised the possibility of a joint offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
Iraqi and Turkish soldiers wave flags at the Habur Border Gate between Turkey and Iraq in this still image taken from video, October 31, 2017. IHA/ via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TURKEY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN TURKEY. PART NO ACCESS TURKEY.? - RC19E8A7C400

Turkish-Iraqi relations had become extremely tense until the decision by Massoud Barzani, former president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to hold an independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan. Barzani's ill-fated move made fast friends of Ankara and Baghdad. Now, it appears that Turkey and Iraq have found further common cause, this time for joint military action against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Agreements signed by Ankara and the KRG on oil and natural gas were, not so long ago, a major source of dispute with Baghdad. As an additional irritant, an Iraqi vice president, Tarek al-Hashemi, accused of leading a terror organization and sentenced to death in absentia for a number of related deaths, had taken refuge in Istanbul under the protection of the Turkish government. Ties between Ankara and Baghdad then neared the point of rupture over Turkish forces' presence at the Bashiqa military base, near Mosul, in anticipation of that city's liberation from the Islamic State (IS).

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