Turkish Intelligence chief seeks normalization during Iraq visit

Turkish Intelligence chief seeks normalization during Iraq visit
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Turkey’s intelligence chief went to Iraq to hold a series of meetings with officials less than two months after Iraq voiced concern over Turkish operations in the country’s northern region

Turkey’s war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq will continue as long as the group stays in the region but Turkey respects Iraq’s sovereignty, said Hakan Fidan, the director of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in meetings with political and security officials in Iraq over the past week, Rudaw reported

Fidan’s visit comes less than two months after Iraq voiced its concern over Turkish operations in the country’s autonomous Kurdistan Region to the United Nations’ Security Council, warning that Turkey has “expansionist” goals behind its repeated attacks on Iraqi territory.

Earlier in July, a Turkish bombardment that killed nine Iraqi tourists in Duhok province of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), sparked national outrage in the country.

Fidan met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, and Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi over the past week. The meetings were held in private and no details were disclosed to the public. 

During the meetings, Fidan expressed Turkey’s support for Iraqi sovereignty, but told his counterparts that Turkey will continue strikes against the PKK as long as the group remains on Iraqi land.

According to the latest report by the Iraqi ministry of defense in July, the Turkish military has entered 105 kilometers deep into Iraqi lands and has over 4,000 soldiers inside the country.

MIT Head also emphasized the importance of Iraq for his country in terms of economy and security.

Last week, the Turkish Ministry of Commerce announced that in August, Turkey’s exports to Iraq reached 1.254 billion dollars, making it the third largest market for Turkey after Germany and the USA.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, 140,000 Iraqi tourists visited Turkey in July alone.

Support for Sunni block

The visit by the Turkish intelligence chief also coincided with the ongoing crisis over the formation of the new government in Iraq, which has become a major point of political conflict between the Sadr movement and the Coordination Framework, two rival Shiite organizations who claim power in the country. 

Fidan on Saturday met with the head of the Iraqi Sunni Sovereignty Alliance Khamis al-Khanjar, where he encouraged a united Sunni front in Iraq.

The Turkish government is seen as a strong ally of the Sunni bloc in Iraq. Sunni leaders Khanjar and Halbousi in February met with Turkish President in Ankara.