Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) visited Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) on 11 September. He met with the Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the KRG, the chair of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) units, and the head of the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance, Khamis al-Khanjar in Baghdad. Fidan’s visit to Iraq coincides with the ongoing crisis over the formation of the new Iraqi government, which has become a major issue in the political rivalry between the Sadr movement and the Shiite Coordination Framework.
In his meeting with Sunni leaders, Fidan called for Khamis al-Khanjar and Mohamed Al-Halbousi, leader of the Progress Party, to unite their powers, reported Duvar.
During the meeting with Khamis al-Khanjar, the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the current political crisis in the country became the main topics discussed, reported Shafaq News.
Analysts have not ruled out the possibility that the meeting took place based on an understanding between Ankara and Tehran to convince the Sovereignty Alliance about the demands of the pro-Iran Coordination Framework.
Sources in Iraq also claimed the purpose of Khanjar’s meeting with Fidan was to discuss the political crisis in Iraq and their relations with the Sadr movement and their Shia rivals.
Based on the visit, the political analyst Riyad al-Wahaili also spoke to Hawar News Agency and said that the visit “exceeded diplomatic norms as a director of intelligence… and these personalities meeting him clearly represents the dependence of these figures on the Turkish axis”.
“Hakan wants to have the political path of the Sunni component in Iraq in his hand, so he wants to pressure the other parties involved in the political process for the sake of Turkish gains in Iraq… especially since dialogues will take place in order to form the next government and draw political visions for the next stage,” said al-Wahaili.
Fidan later met with KRG officials. During his meeting with Iraqi and KRG officials, Fidan guaranteed territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Iraq, reported Duvar.
Fidan also reportedly said that Turkey is ready to establish an investigation commission regarding the Zakho attack.
Following the visit by the Turkish intelligence chief, both Khanjar and Halbousi visited Erbil on Sunday, where they met their ally Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
With the visit, Turkey launched its first formal contact with Iraq since the Zakho massacre that resulted in nine deaths on 20 July 2022.
Right after the massacre, Iraq pointed to Turkey as being responsible for the bombing, but Turkey had denied it saying that the PKK launched the attack.
The Iraqi Parliament had said Turkey must leave Iraq either peacefully or by force and Fuad Hussein had called on the United Nations Security Council to set up an international independent team of inquiry to look into what he called the Turkish army’s “flagrant aggression”.