Date :Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 | Time : 06:44 |ID: 82889 | Print

Iraq-Turkey ties going in positive direction

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SHAFAQNAIraqi President Barham Salih’s visit to Ankara is expected to bolster bilateral relations and displayed their strong determination to deepen relations.

On Friday, a statement by the Iraqi  presidency office said  Barham Salih and his delegation ended their visit to Turkey, where the two sides held fruitful talks on boosting bilateral ties.

During the visit on the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders agreed to “expand cooperation horizons … (and) exchange views on the developments in the region,” the statement said.

Salih, in a joint press conference, said he was visiting “brotherly country Turkey” and stated: “The relations with Turkey will be shoulder to shoulder, in full solidarity.”

In exchange, Turkish President Erdogan stressed that ensuring Iraq ’s stability and security is at the heart of Turkish policy in the region.

The joint press conference displayed the two countries’ strong determination to deepen relations “with the aim of cooperation in every field,” as the Iraqi president said, trtworld reported.

During the press conference, Erdogan emphasised the countries’ cooperation in fighting terrorism and said Turkey is determined to deepen its support in the fight against terrorism with Iraq.

“Terror groups like Daesh, the PKK and FETO [Fethullah Terrorist Organisation] pose threats to both Turkey and Iraq, and the two countries should cooperate in fighting terror,” he said.
Turkey regularly launches air strikes and military operations on PKK bases in northern Iraq as it aims to clear the terror group’s presence near Turkish borders.

On his visit, the Iraqi president emphasised the need to reconstruct the vast Iraqi area which was cleared of Daesh militants by its forces last year.

“Iraq expects Turkey’s help in reconstructing regions of the country free of the grip of terrorists”, he said.

Reiterating Turkey’s pledge to restore terror-affected areas of Iraq, Erdogan said: “We are ready to contribute to infrastructure and development projects — construction of places which were harmed by conflicts being the priority.”
In early 2018, at an international donor conference in Kuwait, Turkey pledged $5 billion in credit to Iraq, reserving the biggest share for reconstruction in the country.

Strengthening our bilateral relationship to bolster peace and prosperity is necessary not only for our people but also for the region, especially in the field of major developments. Iraq is in the reconstruction phase and looks forward to cooperate with its neighbors on the basis of common interests and economic integrity, Salih tweeted.


Nadhum al-Jubouri, an Iraqi political expert and specialist in Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish relations, shed light on the significance of Salih’s visit to Turkey, particularly “after the surprise decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw the U.S. troops from neighboring Syria.”

“Iraq was keen to reach out to Turkey, an important ally of Washington and an NATO member, and Salih was eager to discuss terrorism issue as Iraq is still fighting the Islamic State (IS) remnants and endeavors to end spillover of unrest in its northern border with Turkey and in neighboring Syria,” Jubouri told Xinhua.

Another purpose of Salih’s visit to Turkey is to ensure Iraq’s share of water in the big rivers of Tigris and Euphrates originating from eastern Turkey, where Turkey has been building a massive irrigation and water-management project known as Southeastern Anatolia Project.

The project has reduced the flow of the rivers, raising fears among Iraqis over a crisis of drinking water, reduction in agricultural lands and increasing desertification.

“Iraq has frequently complained about acute shortage in its water share, and Salih was keen to clarify that such crisis would drag Iraq into turmoil,” Jubouri explained.

Meanwhile, Turkey is trying to make use of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria to deal a blow to the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party in northern Iraq and the Kurdish militants inside Syria, he said.

It is also trying to exploit the U.S. sanctions on Iran to fill its vacuum in Iraq, as part of the sanctions’ goals is to reduce the Iranian influence in Iraq, the Iraqi expert added.

For Jamal Beirah, a Kurdish analyst, Salih’s visit to Turkey came as the two countries are in urgent need for political and diplomatic coordination to address the regional political, economic and security tension.

“Turkey is facing internal and external problems. Therefore, it needs to promote its relations with the neighboring countries, including Iraq which has border with Turkey in addition to significant political, economic and commercial interests,” Beirah said.

At a joint press conference with Erdogan, Salih highlighted the need for Iraq and Turkey to “work together to end the conflicts in the region.”

“Iraq and Turkey need a comprehensive agreement to end all pending issues. We have to cooperate to achieve common security to our countries,” he said, xinhuanet reported.

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