ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced Baghdad rejects Turkish interference in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria, adding, however, that it would not prevent Iraq from maintaining its ties with Turkey.
It has been two weeks since Turkey launched an air and ground offensive on Afrin, a Kurdish region which has been under the protection of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) since 2012 after Syrian government troops withdrew from the area.
“We reject any foreign country interfering in the affairs of another state,” Jaafari said during a recent interview with the Syrian-state TV.
He mentioned that Baghdad had maintained its relationship with Ankara despite the Turkish incursion into northern Syria.
Turkey views the YPG and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish political party in Syrian Kurdistan’s (Rojava) self-governing body, as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the EU, and the US.
Over the past few years, ties between Baghdad and Ankara were tense due to the presence of uninvited Turkish troops in the town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, which trained local volunteers operating outside of the Iraqi army structure.
Baghdad labeled it an “occupation,” and both sides threatened each other as Ankara refused to withdraw troops from the area until “threats to the Turkish state at its borders” were eliminated.
Tensions between Iraq and Turkey eased after officials visits helped start a dialogue between the two parties. Turkish forces continue to be present on the outskirts of Mosul despite the liberation of the city and the complete physical defeat of the jihadist group in Iraq.
Editing by Nadia Riva