Iraq, Turkey agree to cooperate against PKK and ISIS: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speak during a joint news conference in the capital Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 17, 2020. (Anadolu Agency)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq and Turkey have agreed to continue their cooperation in fighting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi leading a high-level government delegation met with Erdogan during his official visit to Ankara on Thursday.

Erdogan said following talks with Kadhimi that the two countries viewed the PKK as one of their “common enemies”, according to AFP.

“We agreed to continue our fight against our common enemies – Daesh [ISIS], PKK and FETO terror organizations,” Erdogan told a joint televised news conference with Kadhimi.

“There is no place for separatist terrorism in Turkey, Iraq or Syria,” Erdogan added, AP reported. “Our region will not find peace until terrorism is quashed.”

Kadhimi, for his part, said Iraq would not allow any groups to use Iraqi soil for attacks inside Turkey, and that it was cooperating with Ankara to confront terror groups.

“Iraq has a clear stance in condemning any action threatening Turkey or using the Iraqi territory to threaten Turkey’s national security,” Kadhimi said,

Kadhimi further said it was not “possible for Iraq to show tolerance toward any [group] that threatens Turkey”.

Turkey has conducted numerous ground and aerial cross-border offensives into neighboring northern Iraq to attack PKK fighters, who maintains bases in the region.

The PKK’s insurgency against the Turkish state is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people since being launched in 1984.

Iraq and Turkey also agreed to continue working on a Turkish-proposed action plan geared toward the “effective use” of the waters of the Tigris River, Erdogan said.

“As Turkey, we stress that water shouldn’t be assessed as a factor for disagreement, but a field for cooperation,” Erdogan noted.

Iraq secures its water need from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, stemming from Turkey, which has been trying to use the rivers’ water to generate electric power for years. Ankara has built Ilisu dam in 2006 and made it operational in 2018.

The dam limited the flow of water to Iraq, which exacerbated fear in Mesopotamia of an acute water shortage and an incapacity to meet the population’s daily and agricultural needs.

Iraq does not have a water agreement with Turkey, but for decades Baghdad has signed a number of protocols on the flow of water to its territories.

Kadhimi’s cabinet is addressing the water issue with great attention, but it faces skepticism in its ability to conclude a water sharing agreement with Turkey.

Iraqi premier’s office said in a statement that the Iraqi delegation had signed two agreements with the Turkish officials regarding taxes and culture.

The Turkish president also called for the repair of the Iraqi oil pipeline damaged by ISIS militants and the resumption of the transfer of Kirkuk oil to the global market.

*This story was updated at 11:45 p.m. EBL time 

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