Intensive talks held by the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechervan Barzani in Ankara on Wednesday focussed on the current battles to liberate Mosul from ISIS. It appears that Turkish officials are keen to prevent the establishment of a new base belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar in northern Iraq in light of current developments in Syria and Iraq and fears about Kurdish moves on the Turkish border.
Barzani also brought up the matter of members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and pro-Kurdish Turkish politicians including Mardin co-mayor Ahmet Türk being detained by the Turkish authorities as part of the ongoing terror probe on their links to the PKK “terrorist organisation”.
Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Barzani’s meetings with his Turkish counterpart Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim, the Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were dominated by developments in Mosul. Turkish officials expressed their sensitivities about current developments in the context of the battle for Mosul and Turkey’s red lines. They were particularly keen that a new base for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is not established in Sinjar in the Qandil Mountains which is a source of constant nuisance for Turkey. The sources added that Barzani stressed that the position of Iraqi Kurdistan on the matter corresponds to that of Turkey’s, and that Kurdistan will not accept the entry of PKK fighters into Sinjar in order to establish a base there.
Barzani expressed concern about the possibility of Sinjar being turned into the second headquarters of the PKK in northern Iraq, and stressed that Peshmerga forces are trying to gain the upper hand in the region which is home to about 4,000 Yazidis.
The sources added that Turkish officials have expressed their appreciation for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s position and the role played by Peshmerga forces in the battle for Mosul and their confrontation of the PKK’s actions. The officials also stressed that Turkey would not stand by in the case that the PKK transformed Sinjar into a base, and that it has taken all necessary measures to do so.
On his part, Barzani proposed the resumption of peace talks on domestic security to Turkish officials in order to settle the Kurdish problem and the issue regarding the arrest of representatives of the HDP, and he focussed in particular on the veteran Kurdish politician who was arrested on Monday. He is a prominent figure who has close ties with the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan.