In ‘most comprehensive visit to Baghdad’ in 18 years, Hakan Fidan discusses bilateral issues with heads of political factions, including US-sanctioned ones
Turkey’s foreign minister concluded a three-day trip to Iraq in which he met with actors from across the political spectrum, with water security, development projects, and fighting “terror” high on the agenda.
The visit, the first to Iraq by Hakan Fidan since he became foreign minister in June, included meetings with usual counterparts like Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.
Fidan held talks with Falih al-Fayyadh, head of the Popular Mobilisation Authority (PMA) paramilitary umbrella organisation; Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister; Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Fatah alliance; and Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq political party and paramilitary group.
He also held discussions with Khamis al-Khanjar, the Sunni leader of the Azem Alliance.
“There hasn’t been a visit like this intense and comprehensive in the past 18 years,” Bilgay Duman, a coordinator for Iraqi studies at the Ankara-based think-tank, Orsam, told Middle East Eye.
“Fidan is taken very seriously in Iraq due to his past engagements as the intelligence chief. He knows all the actors.”
A Turkish source familiar with the visit told MEE that Ankara wants to talk to “pretty much everyone that matters within Iraq to help reach stability in the country”.
“We want a united Iraq that doesn’t witness the loss of generations, resources, and opportunities. And we will be a positive force to help them do it,” the source said.
At a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Fidan publicly asked Baghdad to brand the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terror group.
The PKK, a Kurdish separatist group, has been in conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s, involving violence that has killed tens of thousands of people. Turkey, the US, and the EU have designated the PKK as a terror group due to the deadly attacks it has carried out on civilians.
The group has operated from northern Iraq for decades and recently increased its presence in Sinjar and Sulaymaniyah, located in the country’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
Last year, Ankara closed its airspace to flights in and out of Sulaymaniyah, citing alleged growing activity of the PKK in the city.
Source : Middle Eyes Monitor