An Iraqi delegation including Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein was in Türkiye on Tuesday. The two neighbors discussed their bilateral ties and a common threat: the PKK terrorist group.
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met Hussein in the capital Ankara in talks dominated by the PKK threat and security cooperation. The Iraqi side highlighted the importance of expelling PKK from Iraqi soil where it threatens the country’s sovereignty. Ankara emphasized any assistance to fight against terrorism.
In its over 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is its Syrian branch. The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organization in Türkiye, along with the United States, Britain and the European Union. It has waged a bloody campaign of terrorism in Türkiye since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, including women and children.
Ankara maintains dozens of military bases in northern Iraq where it regularly launches operations against the group, which maintains a stronghold in the Qandil Mountains. In the last few years, intensifying operations in the region have demolished terrorist lairs in Metina, Avashin-Basyan, Zap and Gara. After eradicating the group’s influence in these regions, Türkiye also aims to clear Qandil, Sinjar and Makhmour.
Türkiye’s military involvement in northern Iraq dates back over two decades, separately from its operations against the PKK, and also included the war against the Daesh terrorist group, which controlled much of the area, in 2014 and 2015, when Ankara was an ally in the U.S.-led anti-Daesh campaign.
Iraq and Türkiye maintain close ties and Fidan paid a visit to Iraq in August. Officials from the two countries discussed the improvement of cooperation and charted a road map. Foreign ministries of Iraq and Türkiye will now work to follow up on the new path for cooperation.
The water issue also dominated the talks on Tuesday. Iraq is among the countries significantly affected by climate change. Turkish and Iraqi officials underlined the improvement of water usage efficiency in the face of drought. Iraq and Türkiye formed a joint committee on water resources last August. Technical delegations of the two countries will be in touch on the water issue. Some Iraqi officials have blamed upstream dams built by Türkiye for water scarcity, while Turkish officials have assured that Iraq would not be deprived of water.