Creating new perspectives since 2009

Turkiye: foreign minister calls on Iraq to end PKK presence in Kirkuk

September 4, 2023 at 12:20 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan speaks during a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein (not seen) after their meeting in Baghdad, Iraq on August 22, 2023 [Murtadha Al-Sudani – Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has called on the Iraqi authorities to put an end to the increasing presence of the PKK militant group in the northern city of Kirkuk, Anadolu has reported. 

Supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) demonstrated in Kirkuk on Saturday to demand the reopening of a highway linking the city to Erbil. The highway was closed by Iraqi Turkmen who oppose the handover of the Joint Operations Command building to the KDP. Protesters blocked several roads by burning tyres, forcing the local authorities to declare a curfew in the city.

Turkiye believes the KDP has ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group which is designated as a terrorist entity by Ankara, the US and EU.

READ: Iraq executes 3 over 2016 Daesh bombing

“We are saddened and concerned over tensions that have resulted in loss of lives in Kirkuk, which is the ancestral homeland of our Turkmen kin,” Fidan told a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, in Tehran. “The peace and stability of Kirkuk affect the overall peace and stability of Iraq. We see Kirkuk as a symbol of the culture of peaceful coexistence.” 

Fidan pointed out that Kirkuk, a city with a long history, has recently endured great suffering and massacres. “We believe that it is essential to preserve the delicate social balance in this city and ensure equal representation and participation for all groups in governance.” 

According to the local police, at least four people have so far been killed in the protests, which broke out in Kirkuk last week following a government decision to hand over the Kirkuk Operations Command headquarters to the KDP. The party argues that the building was previously used by its cadres and should be given back to it.

Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) were deployed to bases evacuated by the Iraqi army in Kirkuk following the emergence of the Daesh terrorist group in 2014. In 2017, Iraqi government forces entered Kirkuk, ending the Peshmerga presence in the city.

READ: Putin to meet Turkiyes Erdogan on Monday in Sochi – Kremlin