News / Middle East

    Turkey to Broach Kurdistan Issue in Tehran

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, and Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, Ankara, Oct. 21, 2011.
    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, and Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, Ankara, Oct. 21, 2011.
    Dorian Jones

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is in Iran for talks that are expected to address the burgeoning political crisis in neighboring Iraq, where Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has fled to the semiautonomous Kurdistan region to escape a warrant for his arrest.

    Al-Hashemi has taken sanctuary in the disputed northern territory in the wake of charges he led Sunni death squads against Shi'ite opponents -- charges he denies. Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite who ordered the arrest warrant, has demanded the Iraqi Kurds hand over Hashemi. They have refused and are instead calling for talks to resolve the crisis.

    According to Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal, Ankara strongly backs that stance.

    "KRG [the Kurdistan Regional Government] has asked for a national meeting concerning all Iraqi parties to discuss recent developments, and we support that call," he says. "We have good relations with the KRG of Iraq, and we continue to do so. We will be continuing our economic relations and other political and social links."

    Analysts say Ankara's strong support for the Kurdistan regional government is also affecting Turkey's deteriorating relationship with Iran. There are growing suspicions in Ankara that Tehran is surreptitiously orchestrating some of the political upheaval in Iraq so as to strengthen Shi'ite power there.

    Murat Bilhan, a former Turkish ambassador and professor of international relations at Istanbul's Kultur University, says powerful economic forces are also driving the relationship between Ankara and the Kurdistan government.

    The region is believed to have massive energy reserves. And there is trade: Iraqi Kurd leaders say about 60 percent of foreign companies operating in the region are Turkish.

    "Turkey has special interests in the Kurdish region, and it has special relations with them," says Bilhan. "We have exchanged visits. They have come to Turkey for advice and to exchange views for future cooperation, so I think we have many things in common."

    But Kurdish separatists known as the PKK operating in Turkey often enter the country from bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish jets regularly bomb the area targeting the separatists, drawing angry responses from the Iraqi Kurdish government.

    Soli Ozel, a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Haberturk and professor at Istanbul's Bilgi University, says economic interests ultimately outweigh threats to regional stability from the PKK.

    "The Kurds of Iraq said basically they cannot fight against the PKK, but we help you in any other way we can," he says. "And Turkey will have to live with that restriction, but our trade is in billions of dollars, and the logic of geopolitics -- the logic of history, maybe of sociology -- dictates that the Iraqi Kurds will have closer relations than with Arab Iraq."

    In his visit to Iran, the Turkish foreign minister is likely to bring up some of the thorny issues concerning neighboring Iraq, and he is likely to reaffirm Turkey's ties with Iraqi Kurdistan.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.