Iraq’s ambassador to Turkey, Hisham Ali Akbar Ibrahim Al-Alawi, said on Friday that Baghdad and Ankara might use military force to take control of the Habur border gate from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and added that recent maneuvers were in preparation for that, TRT Haber reported.
Speaking to reporters at the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara on Friday, Al-Alawi said his embassy and Turkish officials are working on a possible visit by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi officials over mutual moves following a referendum held by the KRG for an independent Kurdistan state.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım told reporters after Friday prayer in Ankara that Turkey wants to open a new border gate with Iraq in cooperation with the central government in Baghdad after it shuts down the existing Habur gate in response to last week’s referendum.
“We have proposed opening the new Ovaköy gate, west of the currently used Habur gate, to Baghdad, and we are expecting their support. We will be happy to discuss this with [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi,” he said.
Yıldırım also said he wanted to boost cooperation with the central Iraqi government on economy, defense and security and political issues.
A day after an independence referendum held by the KRG on Sept. 25, Turkish and Iraqi armed forces launched a joint military exercise on the Turkish-Iraqi border, in the Silopi district of Turkey’s Şırnak province.
Despite warnings from the Baghdad administration and abroad, including from Ankara and Washington, the KRG held a referendum last Monday for a separate Kurdistan state in northern Iraq.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the Turkish armed forces could suddenly launch an operation one night in the region.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sept. 25 issued a press release describing the independence referendum as “null” and “void” and said that Turkey does not recognize the referendum, which lacks international legitimacy.