Erdoğan receives KRG’s Barzani for talks

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late Friday received Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

In the meeting at the Turkish Presidency’s Dolmabahçe office in Istanbul, the two officials discussed ways to strengthen Turkey-KRG bilateral relations and regional developments.

Ankara and Irbil have significant areas of cooperation, including in the fields of trade, energy and security.

One of the areas Turkey and the KRG cooperate is the fight against terror, especially considering that the PKK terrorist group has strongholds in parts of northern Iraq under KRG control where Turkish warplanes regularly carry out counterterrorism operations.

In a recent statement, KRG spokesperson Jotiar Adil said that the PKK’s presence in the area is the reason for Turkish operations.

“The PKK is neither accepting the Kurdistan region, the government or its authority. What is the PKK doing in Sinjar and Qandil?” Adil asked

He continued to say that the PKK has put the region’s people in a difficult situation.

“Hundreds of villages have been evacuated, the people have become homeless. It was the Kurdistan region that was harmed in this process. Therefore the PKK’s aim is to weaken the Kurdistan region,” he added.

On the other hand, the Iraqi Prime Ministry announced last October that it reached a “historic deal” with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), an agreement that will bolster Iraqi federal authority in Sinjar under the constitution in terms of governance and security. The Iraqi prime minister’s spokesperson, Ahmed Mulla Talal, said in a Twitter statement that the agreement will end the authority of intruding groups in Sinjar, referring to the PKK. The next day, the Iraqi Parliament said the settlement agreement between the Iraqi government and Iraq’s KRG on the status of the Sinjar district will accelerate the return of displaced people.

Following the deal, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it hoped the agreement would be carried out in a way that enables the reinstatement of Iraqi authorities’ control in Sinjar, the eradication of the Daesh and PKK terrorist organizations and their extensions from the region, and ensure the safe return of Yazidis and the other people of the region who have been subject to grave oppression and persecution, first at the hands of Daesh and then by the PKK.

The PKK terrorist group managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in mid-2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new base in Sinjar for its logistical and command-and-control activities. Around 450,000 Yazidis escaped Sinjar after Daesh took control of the region in mid-2014.

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