Iraqi Kurds seeking dialogue

  • The New Anatolian
  • 26/10/2006 00:00:00

ERBIL/ANKARA - Iraqi Kurdish leaders are planning to send a high-powered joint delegation of Kurdistan Democracy Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) officials to Turkey to mend fences with Ankara.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders, alarmed at the growing rift with Baghdad and the deteriorating general security situation in Iraq, see their dependence on Turkey increasing and feel the urge to establish closer links with Ankara.

The New Anatolian learned in Erbil that PUK and KDP leaders, who established a joint government for the northern Iraqi region in May, now plan to set up a joint team that will travel to Turkey. The same delegation will then visit Tehran and Damascus as well as Amman and Cairo.

The KDP tried to establish dialogue with Turkey by hosting the undersecretary of the Turkish intelligence agency in Salahaddin, where he met Massoud Barzani and other high-level officials.

Later a KDP delegation visited Turkish intelligence headquarters in Ankara. However, these contacts failed to establish a workable environment for dialogue between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

The Iraqi Kurdish leaders see improving ties with Ankara as a priority because the oil they hope to produce and sell in the future can only reach world markets through Turkey.

However, the presence of Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK terrorists in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq and the impasse over the Kirkuk issue, in contention by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, remain serious stumbling blocks for Ankara to show any enthusiasm for any meaningful dialogue with the Iraqi Kurds.

The fact that the PKK presence is so obvious in the Iraqi Kurdish region where the terrorist group is allowed to man checkpoints on the roads leading to the Kandil Mountains and the fact that the KDP's KTV aired a one-hour interview with PKK leader Murat Karayilan has deepened Ankara's concerns that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders are not at all interested in wiping out the PKK, and instead are facilitating it.

The Iraqi Kurdish leaders led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who also heads the PUK, say the PKK has declared a cease-fire and now it is up to Ankara to reciprocate this "gesture." Ankara does not accept the PKK as a counterpart and has dismissed the so-called cease-fire.

Whether Ankara welcomes a joint KDP-PUK delegation in view of these conditions remains to be seen.

  • The New Anatolian
  • 26/10/2006 00:00:00