ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sulaimani International Airport Director Tahir Abdullah on Monday said flights between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani province would resume in late January after an over year-long ban by Ankara.
On early Monday, a delegation from Turkish Airlines visited Sulaimani Airport and met with Abdullah. Following this, the director made the announcement.
“On Jan. 24, the first flight from Sulaimani to Turkey will begin,” Abdullah said in a post on the airport’s official Facebook page.
Following the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in September 2017, Turkey halted all international flights to the Kurdish region. A few months later, in March 2018, Ankara decided to resume flights to the capital of Erbil but did not include Sulaimani and its airport.
Ankara’s continued embargo was based on allegations that both Gorran (Change) Movement and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – whose strongholds are in the Sulaimani province – aid the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish group fighting for broader rights in Turkey which Ankara, the United States, and the European Union have designated a “terrorist” organization.
Both Gorran and PUK officials have rejected Turkey’s accusations.
In moves appearing to be part of the PUK’s – which holds significant authority over the local security (Asayish) and Peshmerga forces – bid to mend ties with Ankara, Sulaimani Asayish on Friday blocked the screening of a film related to the PKK at a public park. The Asayish is reported to have arrested 50 individuals at the event.
This came three days after security forces ordered the closure of a movie theater for its plan to show the same movie.
In late November, security in Sulaimani closed multiple offices of the PKK-affiliated Tavgari Azadi in the city and elsewhere in the province. The party alleged that the move had come on the orders of the PUK.
These measures seem to have proven successful with Monday’s announcement.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany