Turkish activities in Iraq under spotlight after assassination – Arab Weekly

Turkey’s activities in Iraq are under scrutiny after the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq prompted a military operation from Ankara, Manuel Langendorf wrote in the Arab Weekly.

But Iraq needs Turkey to offset the influence of Iran over the country. Turkey has also increased its economic activities in Iraq after a currency crisis battered its own economy last year, Langendorf said, citing regional experts.

The killing of diplomat Osman Kose and two others at a restaurant on the Airport Road in the northern city of Erbil in mid-July provoked condemnation and airstrikes from Turkey. Ankara has since said it killed the planners of the attack by hitting a target in northern Iraq with F-16 jets, while Kurdish security forces claimed they have arrested the perpetrator.

Most Iraqi parliamentarians, with an eye on voters, say they oppose the presence of the Turkish military in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Langendorf said, citing Aymen al-Faisal, a researcher at the Al-Bayan Centre for Planning and Studies in Baghdad. Turkey keeps several forward bases there to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group seeking autonomy for the Kurds in Turkey but recognised as terrorists by the United States and European Union.

Despite the attack and Iraq’s condemnation of Turkey’s military action since, Ankara wants better relations with Baghdad to help fight the PKK and due to Iraq’s geographical location between Iran and Syria, said Barin Kayaoglu, assistant professor of world history at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, according to Langendorf.

Iraq also needs Turkey to lower its dependence on Iran, Langendorf said.