Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan demanded that Iraq designate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation in a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart on Wednesday during his visit to Iraq.
“We expect them to officially recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation as friendship and fraternity necessitates,” Fidan said, calling the PKK a “common enemy” for the two countries.
“We are ready to work with Iraq to fight against all types of terrorist organisations, be it the PKK or the [Islamic State],” Turkey’s former intelligence chief continued.
Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist organisation, extending the definition to include Syrian Kurdish organisations and pressuring its neighbours to follow course.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG), led by Syrian Kurds that Turkey considers to be terrorists, were the boots on the ground for the global coalition against ISIS and the main force responsible for the fundamentalist group’s defeat in Iraq and Syria.
Fidan then spoke about “maximising relations between Turkey and Iraq and minimising issues”.
One of the points of raised tensions between the two countries has been Turkey restricting the water flow into the country from the twin rivers of Tigris and Euphrates. Iraq has suffered drought throughout the summer, combined with low rainfall.
Turkey has also continued a military operation on Iraqi soil since 2019, and has built dozens of outposts in the country. While Ankara maintains the operations target PKK encampments in Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountains, Turkish troops have advanced to more than 30 km from the shared border and Turkish intelligence is believed to be responsible for several assassination attempts in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Fidan expressed support for Iraq’s new central government led by Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, and the Development Road Initiative Sudani champions.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein did not touch on controversies between the two countries, instead praising the “acceleration” of trade relations.
“The development of this relationship is important for us via constant meetings with Turkish government and ministries,” Hussein said.
The two ministers could not reach an agreement on any matter, and decided in the end to establish a permanent negotiation commission, Kurdish newspaper Yeniyaşam reported citing Iraqi media reports.
Fidan’s visit will continue in the Kurdish regional capital Erbil (Hewler).