Abadi visits Erdogan, discusses new border gate to circumvent Kurdistan

Turkey and Iraq pledged to enhance commerce and security cooperation between the two countries.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday met in Ankara to affirm their intention of opening a new border crossing between the two countries in a narrow chunk of land that is under the Kurdistan Region’s control.

At a joint press conference with Erdogan, Abadi said the new crossing in Faysh Khabur, 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) west of Kurdistan’s currently-used Ibrahim Khalil gate, would enhance “direct” commerce of Iraq with Turkey.

“The second border gate will benefit both Iraq and our country. I believe we will take the necessary steps,” Erdogan said.

They refrained from explaining if they had any intentions of consulting with Kurdistan over the proposed crossing which has been on their agenda since the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum last year.

The step was meant to isolate the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) without having to harm their billion dollars-worth trade, though such a move would require consent from Erbil.

Last year, in the aftermath of Kurdistan’s referendum, Ankara was hoping Baghdad, and Iranian-backed Shia militias would capture the area after Kurds’ loss of the city of Kirkuk to Iraq.

Erdogan and Abadi also spoke of resolving water and electricity issues as Turkey continues to fill up grand dams (among them the Ilisu) it has constructed in Kurdish provinces, a process denying Iraq flow of the River Tigris.

Ankara’s plans to reopen its consulates in the cities of Basra and Mosul as well as securing the border and cooperating against the Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey was on the table as well.

Both leaders agreed on selling oil from Kirkuk to international markets via Turkey, through a pipeline on the same route as the proposed gate.

Abadi voiced support for Turkey in the face of a financial and looming economic crisis the latter is experiencing.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany