ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Ankara is ready to mediate between the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to mend ties that collapsed after the latter’s referendum on independence last year.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday told the state media that there were requests from both sides for his country to take steps in normalizing their relations.
“I will go to Baghdad on Jan. 21. We will discuss this in addition to the bilateral issues,” he said.
Kurdistan’s statehood bid which gained support from almost 93 percent of voters in September 2017 backfired when Baghdad, with the help of Iranian-backed Shia militias, staged a military offensive to capture Kurdish-majority contested territories, including the city of Kirkuk.
The two states of Iran and Turkey fear any Kurdish empowerment regarding self-rule in Iraq and Syria could embolden similar demands from their respective Kurdish populations.
Staunchly opposing the vote, Turkey threatened Erbil with sanctions if not military intervention with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan going so far as to threaten one of his country’s largest commercial recipients, Kurdistan, with starvation.
Cavusoglu argued that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is fighting his government over larger Kurdish rights was encouraged by the move.
He also cited Syrian Kurds’ aspirations for autonomy as a threat to Turkey.
Erbil, before and after the referendum, expressed willingness in engaging in talks with Baghdad to resolve the issues.
Despite calls for dialogue from both sides’ Western allies, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has so far refused to sit down for negotiations.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany