Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan became the country’s first official to hold high-level talks in Baghdad after bilateral tensions shot up in July. While Fidan’s visit was aimed at soothing the tensions, it was also a Turkish attempt to exert influence in the Iraqi political crisis.
Tensions spiked over a bloody attack on Parakh, a tourist retreat in Iraqi Kurdistan, that Iraqi leaders blamed on the Turkish military. The July 20 artillery strike killed nine civilians and injured more than 30 others, sparking anger against Turkey across the Iraqi political spectrum. In a remarkably stern reaction, Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr — a key actor in the government crisis in Iraq — called for canceling all security arrangements with Turkey, halting air and land traffic between the two countries and taking action against Turkey at the United Nations.