By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)
Relations between the governments of Iraq and Turkey continue to deteriorate. For now the animosities remain primarily personal, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki engaged in a vicious feud with both Iraqi and Turkish leaders he considers his enemies. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials have focused their criticisms on the Iraqi Prime Minister, and have sought to uphold the rights of Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Sunnis without antagonizing Iraq’s Shiites. But these personal tensions reflect real differences between Ankara and Baghdad over the need for democratic governments in Iraq and Syria. And these divergences are in turn reinforced by ethnic and sectarian tensions as well as a competition between latent neo-Ottoman tendencies and Iranian ambitions to fill the vacuum created by the power vacuum in the Middle East resulting from the Western withdrawal and Egyptian paralysis.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
Until now, Turkey’s presence in Iraq has generally been encouraged by all major Iraqi groups. Turkey brings important diplomatic and economic assets to the partnership, especially in the economic dimension. Turkish officials have generally refrained from the more blatant intervention in Iraq’s affairs that has aroused popular animosities against Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s confrontational policies against Sunni and Kurdish leaders have now alarmed Ankara about the risks of renewed violent sectarian strife in Turkey’s southern neighbor. If they put behind them their recent spat, Iraqi policy makers would recognize that Turkey could be Iraq’s best friend in a volatile region. Turkey’s interests require a strong but democratic Iraqi state ruled by a coalition of political forces that can promote domestic stability, national independence, and regional security.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 2 of the Turkey Analyst)
Though not pursuing an overt or perhaps even deliberate policy of balancing Iran, Turkey has managed to overcome years of tense ties with Iraq and emerge as a major force in that country’s political, economic, and cultural life. Whereas the Shiite members of the new Iraqi government seek to limit the influence of the Persian Gulf monarchies, and non-Shiite leaders want to constrain Iranian influence in their country, neither they nor any other influential Iraqi group oppose Turkey’s growing sway in their country. As it quietly helps to keep Iraq out of Tehran’s orbit and by linking Baghdad to the West, Ankara is set to increase its own regional influence and, potentially, enhance its value as a strategic partner of Western and Persian Gulf governments.
By Tülin Daloglu (vol. 2, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
For a long time, the relationship between Turkey and Iraq has been defined by the fact that Iraqi Kurds provide a safe haven for the separatist Kurdish terrorist organization, the PKK. Yet Gen. Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s Chief of Staff, said recently in Washington that Iraq’s Kurdish region is no longer a safe place for PKK terrorists. that gain cannot yet be counted as permanent. Next January, Iraq will see general elections as well as a referendum on controversial issues like the future of Kirkuk. With U.S. troops withdrawing from Iraqi cities, escalating high-profile attacks raise concerns about the Iraqi forces’ ability to secure the country. In this make it-or-break it year for Iraq, the Kurds must decide the price they will pay to retain Kirkuk inside their territory. They will also have to decide whether they are willing to risk a possible breakaway from Iraq.
By M.K. Kaya (vol. 2, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish president Abdullah Gül’s visit to Iraq last week signals a more relaxed Turkish attitude toward the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq. While relations have been acrimonious due mainly to the PKK’s ability to use northern Iraqi territory to stage terrorist attacks on Turkey, the picture has changed since Turkey’s military incursion into northern Iraq in 2007. The interests and policies of Turkey and of the Iraqi Kurds are indeed increasingly set to converge on the eve of the scheduled American withdrawal from Iraq.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.