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.


‘Islamic State’ claims series of deadly attacks in Yemen

Opening of Baghdad’s Green Zone to public worries US

NATO accuses Russia of violating Turkey airspace

Russia has created ‘de facto no-fly zone’ for Assad

Halal economy set to grow worldwide

Russia hints at willingness on Syria 'deconfliction' with US

France may strip five terrorists of nationality

Israel demolition policy: Collective punishment in violation of international law

Violence in Yemen may trigger world's next great refugee crisis

EU to 'step up' work on resettlement of refugees from Turkey

Tunisia dismantles three ISIS recruitment cells

Russia not cooperating with US in Syria safety talks

Recent unrest leaves Netanyahu with tough political choices

Unpaid teachers in Iraq Kurdistan go on strike to end ‘farce’

Erdogan warns Russia not to destroy friendship with Turkey

Arab coalition troops among 15 killed in Yemen attacks

Is pro-Sisi parliament a given?

NATO warns Russia airspace violations risk inflaming tensions

Turkey urges EU to do more to topple Assad

Iran threatens boycott Frankfurt Book Fair over Rushdie’s invite

Libya rival factions resume peace talks in Morocco

Yemen PM escapes unharmed in Aden rocket attack

UK top counter-terrorism official accuses social media of 'undermining' investigations

Lebanon lawmakers nearly come to blows in televised meeting

Gulf Arab forces take back strategic island in Yemen

Yemeni forces besiege rebels after capturing key strait

US shows laxity in enforcement of Iran arms embargo

Turkey warns Russia over air space violations

Russia gets new warning from Pentagon as tensions simmer over Syria

Arab states silent on Russian intervention in Syria

Assault on Egyptian waiter in Jordan draws public outrage

Syria rebel factions call for new coalition to combat Assad and allies

Germany voices doubt over Russian operations in Syria

Iraq militia leader casts doubt on US seriousness about fight against ISIS

Russia jets hit nine ISIS targets in Syria over past 24 hours

Bodies of 85 migrants washed ashore in Libya

Israeli army shoots dead Palestinian teen near Bethlehem

Russia TV takes Syria coverage to new level: Perfect weather for ISIS bombing!

Netanyahu pledges 'fight to the death' as clashes spread

IS destroys Arch of Triumph in Syria's Palmyra

French FM: Syria air strikes must target all 'groups considered as terrorists'

Israeli carries out air raid Gaza after rocket attack

Tunisia joins anti-ISIS coalition to ‘obtain information’

ISIS gunmen shoot dead two Egypt policemen in Sinai

Trump prefers to 'sit back' and see what happens in Syria