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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs