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Rudaw

Business

Turkey’s flight ban continues to hamper Sulaimani trade

By Rudaw 8/1/2019
Tahir Abdulla, the head of Sulaimaniyah International Airport, speaks to reporters at a press conference on January 8, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV
Tahir Abdulla, the head of Sulaimaniyah International Airport, speaks to reporters at a press conference on January 8, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkey failing to lift its flight ban on Sulaymaniyah International Airport has led to travelling, trade, and revenue decreases.

"Turkey's continued flight ban on the Sulaimani airport has led to $5.4 million in damages," Tahir Abdulla, the head of Sulaimani's airport told reporters on Tuesday.

He blamed Baghdad for not doing enough to resolve the issue. 

Abdulla added "exports from the Sulaimani airport reduced by 73 percent while imports by 82."

Following the events of October 2017, international airspace to Erbil and Sulaimani's airports was ordered closed by the Iraqi federal government.

Turkey and most other countries opened their airspace to planes bound for Erbil in March 2018.

However, Ankara refused to open its airspace to flights bound for Sulaimani. It claims the dominate party in the province, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The move prevents people — particularly those wanting to travel to Europe or Turkey — from utilizing Sulaimani's airport. They must either first travel to an airport elsewhere in Iraq or in Erbil.

Efforts to appease Turkey have been fruitless, including ordering the closure of offices close to Tavgari Azadi (Kurdistan Free Society Movement), a party close to the PKK.

In 2017, Ankara expelled the PUK’s representative to Turkey after the PKK captured two Turkish intelligence agents in Sulaimani province.  

They have not been released.

Abdulla detailed that 5,700 tourists visited the airport's health center last year.

"Last year, 309,000 people travelled through the Sulaimani airport," Abdulla summarized.

Turkey is the Kurdistan Region's largest trading partner followed by Iran. 

Comments

 
Hama | 8/1/2019
When Kurdish rebel groups attacked Iran and Iran was threatening KRG with daily airstrikes and more, these iranian Kurdish groups listened to orders from KRG and ceased or eased their attacks so as to prevent an escalation and worsening of conditions in KRG. This is how a respectful guest behaves. PKK on other hand refuse to listen to KRG and continue to attack Turkey with no care about KRG. They roam around expecting impunity, yet look at Rojava and they themselves ban all other kurdish parties and allow no militias but their own. How can they expect to be treated any differently? We must ban them as they ban us. So many people have lost jobs, hundreds of entire villages destroyed or evacuated, dozens of people killed, all because of PKK and this POINTLESS war that they brought to us. They won't fight this war from Rojava, because they don't want to jeopardize the security of Rojava, but they have no problem fighting it from KRG and jeopardizing our security.
Hama | 8/1/2019
The airport will eventually be reopened as Erbil, as long as PUK is genuine about their crackdown on PKK. We must ban them everywhere in Iraqi Kurdistan and PUK should learn from KDP here. PKK must be treated the same way they treat other Kurdish parties in Rojava. An entire airport and many industries closed down for over a year because of PKK's illegal activities. So many people jobless. Hundreds of villages destroyed and evacuated. Dozens killed. Entire areas too dangerous to walk on now. Millions of kurds cut off from Selemani, my own mother unable to return home and see her family because of a war that PKK started without asking her and other Iraqi Kurds. PKK won't fight from Rojava, but they have no problem jeopardizing the security of KRG.
zagros | 11/1/2019
as long as the puk gives in to the turkish government, it will continue to do so. Instead of Turkey, Turkish companies and products should be banned. turkey is not on the longer lever. Turkey can not afford to give up business with Kurdistan. we can not let you play kurds against each other.
Kamran | 11/1/2019
@Zagros....Trade is beneficial for Turkey of course, but suspending it, would not hurt Turkey as it would to KRG. KRG needs trade Taxes to be able to pay its Staff. Turkey doesnt have such proplems, for Turkey it is not that vital but a plus to its earnings.
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