Erdogan in Iraq: More water for more security

As of: April 22, 2024 7:05 p.m

Turkey and Iraq have been fighting over the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris for a long time. Now Ankara is coming to meet Baghdad. But Turkish President Erdogan was primarily concerned with the PKK.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was received in Baghdad with a gun salute and military honors – the Turkish head of state traveled to the neighboring country for the first time in 13 years. And not without vested interests: water and economic growth for Iraq in exchange for oil and security agreements for Turkey – that’s how the Turkish head of state’s visit can be summed up.

A whole series of cooperation agreements were signed. For example, it was about the acute water shortage in Iraq – the historic two-river country between the Euphrates and the Tigris is literally running out. Huge dam projects in Türkiye are to blame for this, among other things.

Among other things, the agreements are intended to contribute to “better management of the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris,” according to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani.

What Erdogan expects

But Erdogan apparently doesn’t give his southern neighbor a helping hand without something in return: his visit was primarily about joint security agreements and thus the issue of the Kurdish PKK. The Iraqi government recently banned the Kurdish Workers’ Party, much to Ankara’s delight. Erdogan called on the Iraqi government to take decisive action against the PKK.

Erdogan explained that the fight against terror was one of the most important issues and that he had “discussed joint steps against the PKK” with al-Sudani. The PKK presence in Iraq should “end as quickly as possible,” said the Turkish president – his country was ready to “fully support” Iraq in its moves.

Is a new offensive against the PKK imminent?

The Iraqi Defense Minister had already announced a coordination center for intelligence information a few weeks ago. Observers say it is possible that Erdogan is planning another offensive against Kurdish fighters who are hiding in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

The Turkish military has pushed the PKK back into neighboring Iraq and regularly carries out military operations against the PKK and its positions in the north. After his visit to Baghdad, Erdogan traveled on to northern Iraq.

The vision of the commercial center

In order to help the economically stricken Iraq – possibly also to counteract Iranian influence in Iraq – the transport ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar came to Baghdad alongside the Turkish president. They signed an agreement between the four countries with their counterparts to develop Iraq into a trading center between Asia and Europe.

Road and train connections to the Gulf states and Turkey are to be built. In this way, for example, the Gulf states could get food from Turkey overland. According to the Iraqi government, the project costs are around 17 billion US dollars.

In return, the Iraqi government promised to resume oil exports to Turkey – the pipeline was closed around a year ago.

Anna Osius, ARD Cairo, tagesschau, April 22, 2024 6:23 p.m

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