First Published: 2017-08-21

Erdogan says joint op with Iran against Kurds ‘on the agenda’
Turkish president puts aside tensions with Iran, announces possible collaboration against 'terror organisation' PKK.
Middle East Online

Ankara has long complained Iran has ignored its appeal for a joint campaign

ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that a joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants was "always on the agenda", a week after Tehran's top armed forces commander visited Ankara for rare talks.

Turkey has battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for decades, while the Iranian security forces have also fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighbouring Iraq.

"It is always on the agenda to carry out a joint operation with Iran against those terror organisations which pose a threat," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul before a trip to Jordan.

His comments came after Iran's Armed Forces chief of staff General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Turkey last week, with the two sides discussing ways to cooperate against the militants.

During the visit, Iran made a "surprise proposal" to Ankara to launch a joint operation against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq's Kandil and Sinjar regions, the Turkish newspaper Turkiye reported on its front page on Monday.

The newspaper claimed the proposal sparked surprise in Ankara because Turkish officials had long complained that Tehran had long left Turkey alone in its fight against the PKK's cadres, financial structuring and political activities.

Erdogan confirmed that the two countries' military chiefs discussed how to work against Kurdish militants.

"The work will continue because you know that the PKK terror organisation has a foot in Iran," he said.

"They always cause harm to Iran and to us. We work because we believe that if the two countries cooperate, we can reach a conclusion in a much shorter period of time," he said.

"I hope that we will get a successful result there," he added, without offering further details on the timing or scope of the operation.

The PKK is designated as a terror group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

The Turkish army has been waging a relentless campaign in the last months to eradicate the PKK, and occasionally launches air raids against the group's bases in northern Iraq.

Ankara has long complained Iran has ignored its appeal for a joint campaign against the Kurdish insurgency.

 

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Rare moments of joy at Arabs’ unprecedented World Cup qualifications

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat

Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Berlin over Gabriel Lebanon comments

Russia again vetoes renewal of Syria gas attacks probe

UN weighs bid to save Syria gas attacks probe

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

Saudi FM says Lebanon 'held hostage by Hezbollah'

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days

Turkish troops pulled from NATO drill amid new tensions

Six children among civilians killed in shelling of Eastern Ghouta

US official calls on Sudan to stop 'church demolitions'

Hariri set to leave Saudi Arabia for France

Fears of bombs, IS cells still haunt Mosul

Iraq retakes Rawa, last town held by IS

Riyadh striking deals with people detained in anti-graft purge

Iran criticises French Mideast policy

Russia again blocks UN resolution on Syria action

Israel military chief says ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia

Egypt confirms death of wanted jihadist

UK denies link between citizen detained in Iran and £400m debt