Iraqi and Turkish foreign ministers meet in Ankara to boost security-focused relations
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, on Tuesday, 19 December, and discussed enhancing bilateral relations, with a critical emphasis on security and intelligence cooperation between both countries.
"During bilateral talks between the two sides, comprehensive consultations were held on bilateral and regional issues, particularly in the areas of counterterrorism, security, and water," Iraq's foreign affairs ministry said in a joint statement with Turkey. "Both sides agreed to continue developing relations between the two countries in all fields, ensuring comprehensive institutional cooperation."
According to the Iraqi News Agency (INA), senior security officials from both countries attended the bilateral discussions between Hussein and Fidan, focusing on water, security, and counterterrorism.
"The two sides discussed the threats posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) within the framework of security cooperation between the two countries," reads part of the Iraqi foreign ministry statement. "They affirmed that regional security, stability, and prosperity could be achieved through cooperation in trade, investment, transportation, and infrastructure within the framework of a shared strategic vision."
Turkish military aggression continues in northern parts of Iraq. mount Gara, Hakurk and Qandil. The visit of the Iraqi Defense Minister to Ankara seems to have failed to reach an agreement to stop the Turkish hostiles. https://t.co/VqRCdaEJ40 pic.twitter.com/jidwtGHDTW— Harry Istepanian (@HarryIstepanian) December 21, 2023
In the past 25 years, Turkey has established dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan to fight the PKK, which also has rear bases in the area.
Turkey often carries out air and ground raids on PKK positions in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, but this often leads to civilian casualties.
They also discussed steps to implement the Development Road project, contributing to the rapid development of Iraq and the region. The parties addressed climate change and the shared challenge of water, deciding to continue the work of the joint permanent committee formed to address these challenges.
"The Iraqi delegation aims to exert pressure on Turkey regarding various issues, including avoiding airstrikes and military operations against PKK in civilian-populated areas. They also seek an understanding of sharing the water-related damages," sources related to the issue told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication.
In August 2022, Fidan visited Baghdad, where he met with several officials, discussing water issues, the resumption of oil exports from the Kurdistan region to Turkey, and the PKK presence in northern Iraq.
During Fidan's meeting with Iraq's FM, the former expressed his country's anticipation for Iraq to officially recognize the Kurdistan Workers' Party as a terrorist organization. He emphasized the need to prevent the PKK from launching attacks against Turkey from Iraq's territories.
Ahmed Al-Sahaf, spokesperson of Iraq's foreign ministry, did not immediately answer a request by TNA for comment.
The visit by Iraq's delegation follows Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia' Al-Sudani's earlier visit to Turkey on 21 March, where he discussed the water scarcity in Iraq with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan agreed to temporarily double the release of the Tigris River's downstream flows. Iraq, heavily reliant on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers from Turkey, has expressed concerns about restricted water flow due to upstream damming.
The presence of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) elements in Iraqi territories has led to numerous political crises between the two countries. The most recent incident occurred last year when Baghdad accused Turkish forces of shelling a tourist resort in Dohuk, resulting in the deaths of several civilians—a claim that Ankara denied.
This meeting follows Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia' Al-Sudani's earlier visit to Turkey on 21 March, where discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan included addressing the water crisis in Iraq. Erdogan agreed to temporarily double the release of the Tigris River's downstream flows. Iraq, heavily reliant on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers from Turkey, has expressed concerns about restricted water flow due to upstream damming.