First Published: 2012-08-02


Davutoglu in Kirkuk: Iraq denounces underestimation of its sovereignty


Turkish FM’s visit to northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk without informing Baghdad infuriates Iraq, brings relations to new low.


Middle East Online

By Marwan Ibrahim - KIRKUK (Iraq)

Last minute visit?

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday without informing Baghdad, infuriating Iraq and bringing relations to a new low.

Davutoglu made the side-trip to Kirkuk while on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, whose leaders have long called for the incorporation of the ethnically divided oil city in their autonomous region in the north, against strong opposition from Baghdad.

Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that along with oil contracts are the two main points of contention between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.

The Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement saying that "it is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate the national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials.

"All of that was done without the knowledge or approval of the foreign ministry and without going to the official and diplomatic channels to organise this visit," it said.

The foreign ministry statement also termed the visit "blatant interference in Iraq's internal affairs," and said that Turkey should be ready for "the results of this action" and its potential "negative effects on relations between the two countries."

The Kurdish authorities too came in for criticism in the statement, which said: "We are surprised by the position of the government of the region, which facilitated the visit without the knowledge of the federal government and thereby violated its constitutional responsibilities."

Local officials in Kirkuk said they had only learned at the last minute that Davutoglu was coming.

"We were only aware of the visit half an hour before it started," said Rekan al-Saeed, the deputy governor of Kirkuk.

"We look at this visit as a personal one with no diplomatic or political goal, as long as it has not been approved by official federal channels," Saeed said.

Davutolgu visited leaders of Kirkuk's Turkmen community, with which Ankara has long had close ties, as well as religious and historical sites including the city's Ottoman cemetery.

Turkmen Front head Arshad al-Salehi said: "Turkmen should work to enhance relations with Turkey, and Shiites with Iran, and Sunnis with Gulf countries."

The front's deputy leader, Ali Hashem Mukhtar Oglu, said Davutoglu was the highest-ranking Turkish official to visit the city in decades.

Ties between Iraq and Turkey have been marred by a flurry of disputes this year.

In July, Iraq warned Ankara against "any violations" of its territory and airspace, and instructed the foreign ministry to register a complaint at the UN Security Council, after Turkish jets bombed Kurdish rebels in Kurdistan.

A few days earlier, Iraq called on Turkey to stop accepting "illegal" transfers of crude oil from Kurdistan, which an official from the region said had begun earlier in the month.

In May, Davutoglu condemned a demonstration near Turkey's consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, during which protesters burned Turkish flags after Turkey refused to hand over their fugitive vice president.

Turkey has for months hosted Iraq's fugitive Sunni Arab vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted on charges of running a death squad and is being tried in absentia.

In April, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that Turkey was becoming a "hostile state" in the region, accusing its premier of interfering in internal Iraqi affairs.

His remarks came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Maliki's Shiite-led government of stoking sectarian tensions.


Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul face stiff resistance

No Russian air strikes on Aleppo in 7 days

Thousands of Yemenis await lifting of Coalition blockade

UN receives reports of dozens of IS atrocities near Mosul

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

UN envoy to Yemen presents peace proposal to Huthis

Turkey says US must extradite Gulen to avoid damaging ties

Mosul survivors recount fleeing IS 'caliphate'

Report finds Israeli forces could have avoided killings

NATO flies first surveillance mission backing anti-IS coalition

Russian FM says Mosul offensive equivalent to Moscow's Aleppo bombing

Saudi Arabia denies it imposed Yemen blockade

Syria Kurds say Turkey wants to prevent Raqa recapture

Anger at Israel national theatre show in occupied West Bank

Hundreds protest against UN 'complicity' in rebel-held Yemen capital

Turkey FM says ground operation in Iraq a possibility

Iraqi forces retake town from IS

Iran nuclear negotiator cleared of spying charges

Al-Shabaab in suicide bomb attack on AU base in Somalia

Gunmen kill two policemen in eastern Saudi Arabia

Iraqi paramilitary to block IS from fleeing Mosul for Syria

Two imams arrested in Ibiza over 'Islamic State support'

US general raises Yemen concerns with Saudi officials

At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey explosion

French FM annoys Turkey by contrasting states of emergency

UN planning for 150,000 displaced by Mosul battle

UAE jails Sudanese man for planning attacks on immigrants

Qatar in 3 days of mourning for former emir

16 civilians dead in bombardment of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Civilians suffer in IS 'smoke war'

74 jihadists dead after IS assault on Kirkuk

Nearly 100 civilians dead in Turkey-backed Syria op

Kuwait says more work required to counter IS funding

Mosul refugees under IS fire at Syrian border

Morocco king calls for public administration reform

Israeli air force strikes Gaza

Russia not considering renewing Aleppo ceasefire

Israel minister: ‘we will completely destroy’ Gaza in next war

Mosul battle sees highest number of US air strikes yet

Palestinians free four held after visiting settlement during Sukkot

IS executes five Iraqis in western town

Baghdad denies Ankara taking part in Mosul operation

Clashes, air strikes end Aleppo ceasefire

Iraq forces press Mosul assault

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears