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.

 

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks