Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî) has been the target of numerous violations that have adversely affected relations between Turkey and Iraq, Iraqi President Abdullatif Jamal Rashid, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), has told Turkish intelligence chief İbrahim Kalın.
Rashid’s comments came during a high-level meeting in Baghdad on Monday to discuss a range of issues, including security and the contentious issue of water sharing between the two nations.
While both sides expressed their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations during the meeting, Rashid expressed his concern over Turkey’s violations against the governorate of Sulaymaniyah and other cities, calling for decisive action to uphold Iraq’s sovereignty and protect its citizens.
Turkey has recently carried out military attacks in Sulaymaniyah, the stronghold of the PUK, alleging links between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the PUK.
A drone attack on the region’s Arbat agricultural airport last year, which killed three PUK-affiliated peshmergas, had drawn international attention as a likely violation of Iraqi sovereignty and international law.
However, Turkey continues to justify its military attacks, with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan last week threatening the PUK with ‘further action’, accusing the party and its leader Bafel Talabani of supporting the PKK and linking this alleged support to a recent increase in Turkish military casualties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Highlighting the challenges Iraq has overcome, including war, siege, and terrorism, Rashid stressed the importance of respecting the sovereignty of each state and preventing unilateral actions that undermine peace and security.
In response, Kalın reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to the security and stability of Iraq and expressed the desire to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in the areas of “security and the fight against terrorist organisations”.
Rashid went on to call for a solution to the water dispute, which has been a contentious issue for Iraq for some time. Iraq is heavily dependent on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for its water supply, both of which originate in Turkey. The construction of dams in Turkey has significantly reduced the flow of these rivers, leading to water shortages in Iraq.
“Constant population growth, coupled with climate change and desertification, requires a comprehensive understanding of our water needs and the nature of projects on the Tigris and Euphrates,” said Rashid.