A recent closed meeting between the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Neçirvan Barzani, the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, which took place at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on the 12th of March drew a lot of criticism.
Head of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) Hakan Fidan, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, Turkish President’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay attended the meeting alongside Erdoğan and Barzani. The meeting has later been widely interpreted as part of a preparation for a new cross-border military operation into Iraqi Kurdistan territories by Turkey.
Allegedly, an arrangement was drawn on an impending cross-border operation likely to be launched on the Makhmour refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Sinjar (Shengal), northern Iraq, and in the Badinan region in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The fact that there was no Kurdistan flag in the meeting room has been interpreted as a reflection of how the Barzani Family is perceived by Turkish authorities.
Zikri Zebari, an MP for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke to Mezopotamya News Agency, and said that the meeting was aimed at ‘strengthening partnerships’, adding:
“By this meeting, Turkey has aimed to further increase its influence in Mosul, Kirkuk and generally in the Başur (South Kurdistan) region.”
“The people of Başur were not represented in the meeting. President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Barzani, has two vice presidents, one of them representing the Gorani Movement and the other, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Both vice presidents were absent in this meeting, therefore the meeting is infact, unofficial. I don’t see the meeting as representing any group of people.”
Zebari underlined that Turkey does not recognise Iraqi Kurdistan as a sovereign state and added:
“There was no Iraqi Kurdistan flag present. If Turkey recognised Başur Kurdistan, they would not behave as an enemy. Turkey takes the Başur Kurdistan seriously only when they are benefiting from it; namely, when the trade is at stake, or when they are trying to use the people of Başur against the people of other Kurdish regions.”
Zebari stated that Turkey has been trying to destabilize the region for years and trying to turn the people in the region against each other.
“Turkey has been bombing the Başur Region for years. Thousands of civilians have been forced to leave their homes, and many were murdered. That’s why the people of Bashur are not pleased with this meeting. A meeting involving a Kurdish official, Erdoğan and Turkish Intelligence, aimed at to benefiting Turkey, is not acceptable.”