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Baghdad's PKK ban marks win-win for Iraq, Turkey but warning to Iran

The move could ease Turkey's military operations in northern Iraq while at the same allowing Baghdad to extend its presence and control over its territory.
Relatives mourn over the caskets of 11 people killed in Turkish air strikes during their funeral in al-Malikiyah (Derik) in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, on November 21, 2022. - Turkey hit dozens of targets in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq overnight into Sunday, a week after a deadly attack in Istanbul which Ankara has blamed on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (Photo by Gihad DARWISH / AFP) (Photo by GIHAD DARWISH/AFP via Getty Images)

This is an excerpt from Turkey Briefing, Al-Monitor's weekly newsletter covering the big stories of the week in Turkey. To get Turkey Briefing in your inbox, sign up here.

ANKARA — Baghdad’s acceding to Ankara’s longtime demand by banning the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) reflects Iraqi efforts to increase its say in the Turkish military presence and operations in northern Iraq, while granting Ankara a political cover in targeting the group. 

As it hosted a Turkish high-level delegation, Baghdad announced the PKK ban on Thursday, signaling a strong gesture to Ankara on its intentions to improve the bilateral relations. The PKK has been waging an armed campaign against Turkish forces for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey since 1984. 

The PKK, which is listed as a terror outfit by Ankara, Washington and the European Union, is headquartered in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, where Turkey conducts routine airstrikes and holds hundreds of military outposts. Iraq stopped short, however, of listing the group as a terrorist organization. 

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