Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Erbil suggests talks with Turkey, turns down Iraqi Army in place of Peshmerga

(Gulf News) - An Iraqi Kurdish minister has rejected Turkey's demands to send Iraqi troops from Baghdad to the north of the country over rebel activities. Amid increasing tension between Ankara and Baghdad over Kurdish rebel activities, Mohammad Ehsan told Gulf News: "The government of Kurdistan firmly opposes sending Iraqi forces from Baghdad to borders with Turkey as the Turkish government wants."
Ankara accuses Kurd held northern province of Iraq of offering refuge to Turkish Kurd rebels. "This is an internal issue and concerning the sovereignty of Iraq, and only the Iraqi government and its Kurdish regional counterpart will handle it," he added.

Sources in the Iraqi army told Gulf News that recent meeting between Iraqi Defence Minister Abdul Qader Mohammad Jasem and the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad focused on the Turkish government's request of sending Iraqi troops to the border to take the place of Kurdish Peshmerga elements which are accused by Ankara of sympathising with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) elements.
Mohammad Ehsan said the government in Arbil supports talks between Turkey and the PKK leadership. PKK is listed as a terrorist group. "Dialogue is the right way to solve the PKK problem and not by using excessive military power," the Kurdish minister said.
The minister said that Ankara had informed the United States and the Iraqi government that it would not entertain any representatives of Kurdistan government to attend the Turkish-Iraqi talks. The talks are aimed at resolving the military escalation along common borders between the two countries. "Arbil is more than excited to talk directly with Turkey to find a vital solution to the PKK crisis," the minister said.
"I believe the goal of Turkish government is to escalate the situation on the Iraqi border under the pretext of eliminating the hostile activities by PKK elements," Aaron Kamiran, an Iraqi political analyst, told Gulf News.
"The goal is political because launching a Turkish military operation in the region would not achieve any results because of the difficult and mountainous terrain. Hence the Turks want to send Iraqi and non-Kurdish troops to the border and they will raise problems between Arbil and Baghdad, especially with Arbil's insistence on rejecting the Turkish proposal."
He added: "What is important for Turks is to make sure that Iraq Kurdistan region will not be an independent entity or a confederate state in the future. Besides the non-Kurdish forces in the region may pose a guarantee for Turkey in this region, especially since normalisation situations in Kirkuk is implemented hastily".

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