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Abadi and Yildirim talk Bashiqa and PKK, pledge to fight terrorism together

By Rudaw 7/1/2017
Abadi and Yildirim talk Bashiqa and PKK, pledge to fight terrorism together
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirm (L) and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R) met in Baghdad on Saturday. Photo: Official
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Turkey and Iraq have committed to fighting terrorism together and neither country will permit the presence of any terrorist groups on their lands, according to an agreement made between the prime ministers of Turkey and Iraq released by the Iraqi prime minister’s office on Saturday. 

The two leaders met in Baghdad on Saturday to discuss a host of regional issues, including strengthening ties between their two nations, the future of Iraq, and combatting terror. Following their meeting, they released a joint statement of nine points they had agreed on. The full text of their statement is below.

This agreement will have direct bearing on the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Sinjar area. “No force will be allowed to work beyond the frame of the security forces, or the formal Iraqi security forces to be present in that area. And that agreement is final,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday in a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim following discussions between the two leaders.

Yildirim noted that the Kurdistan Region was also opposed to the PKK presence in the area. “They confirmed that they are prepared to launch operations to expel terrorist organizations in Sinjar,” he said. 

“The government in northern Iraq and also the Iraqi central government have promised us that they will not differentiate between one terrorist organization and another. We are thankful to both governments for their sensitivity in fighting terrorist organizations and for their seriousness in expelling terrorist organizations in Sinjar, and we are prepared to cooperate with both governments to fight terrorist organizations.” 

The PKK took part in operations to expel ISIS from the Sinjar area in November 2015 and subsequently remained to provide security and train local forces. 

The Kurdistan Region objected to the PKK’s prolonged presence and called on them to leave. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said last month that the PKK was hindering reconstruction of the area and the return of the displaced Yezidi population. In an interview with Al-Monitor, he said he was prepared to use force to expel the PKK. 

In recent weeks, however, discussions have been held between Kurdistan Region officials and PKK leaders and they have reached an agreement whereby the PKK will withdraw and only local forces will remain.

In addition to the PKK issue, Haider and Yildirim discussed the contentious presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq, at Bashiqa base northeast of Mosul. 

In their agreement, Iraq stressed the importance of Turkey’s withdrawal of its troops from Bashiqa and Turkey confirmed it respects Iraq’s sovereignty, though no details regarding a possible withdrawal were released. 

“Iraq’s sovereignty is very important to us,” Yildirim in the joint press conference. He described Turkey’s military presence in northern Iraq as “not arbitrary, but a necessity.”

The issue of Bashiqa has been discussed previously between the two prime ministers. In mid-December, Abadi’s office released a statement following a phone call between the two stating that Yildirim pledged to withdraw its forces once ISIS was defeated in Mosul. 

The deployment of Turkish troops and heavy weapons to Bashiqa in December 2015 sparked a diplomatic crisis between Baghdad and Ankara that was reignited last October after Iraqi parliamentarians urged the Iraqi government to brand the Turkish presence as an occupation. 
Turkey has maintained that its presence in northern Iraq is necessary to combat the threat posed by ISIS.

The two leaders also discussed Iraq's oil and gas industry. Abadi said they agreed to open pipelines bringing Iraqi oil to Turkey after the military offensive in Mosul. 

Yildirim is due to visit the Kurdistan Region after concluding his meetings in Baghdad. He will arrive in the region a day after the Turkish army reportedly destroyed 11 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) locations in the Qandil mountains. 

The Turkish General Staff issued a statement claiming that their fighter jets carried out airstrikes in the northern Kurdistan Region Friday evening, Hurriyet Daily News reported. 

Full text of the joint Iraq-Turkey statement:

The Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation between Turkey and Iraq headed by the two countries’ Prime Ministers have agreed to the following points, released in a joint statement by the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office: 

1. Both sides pledge to achieve mutual security and stability and to fight terrorism together in the framework of respecting each side's sovereignty.

2. Both sides confirmed that Bashiqa camp is Iraqi.

3. The Iraqi side emphasized its firm position with regard to Bashiqa camp and the necessity for Turkey to begin to withdraw its forces in phases and to close that issue. The Turkish side confirmed its commitment to Iraq's integrity and respect for its sovereignty.

4. Both sides agreed on the importance of upgrading economic and trade cooperation between both countries and in regard to rebuilding the areas damaged as a result of terror, and to activate agreements and deals that were signed between both sides.

5. Both sides agreed to increase cooperation in managing the Tigris and Euphrates waters and joint water projects.

6. The Turkish side commends the victories achieved by the Iraqi armed and security forces in the frame of the Nineveh operations and defeating the terrorist ISIS gangsters.

7. Both sides agreed not to allow the presence of any terrorist organizations on their territory and not to engage in any activity that threatens the national security of both countries. Both sides also agreed to work together to fight terrorism and ISIS with the international coalition.

8. Both sides stressed the need for comprehensive action in the field of culture and tourism for the purpose of strengthening cultural and social ties between the peoples of the two countries.

9. Both sides agreed to find understanding in determining their common interests and challenges with a strategic vision and work together for the security and stability of the region as well as the elimination of all of factors that would threaten the security and stability of the region, including sectarian polarization.


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