Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler has said a recent meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani will have a positive impact on Turkey’s fight against terrorism, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
Speaking to journalists ahead of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group’s weekly meeting on Wednesday, Güler said the Erdogan-Barzani meeting will “definitely have an impact” and that he expects improved cooperation to lead to positive outcomes. “Our fight against terrorism is continuing with increasing intensity and determination,” he added.
Barzani visited Ankara for official talks on Tuesday, where he met with President Erdoğan at the presidential palace. Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was also in attendance.
For the past quarter of a century, Turkey has maintained dozens of military facilities in northern Iraq for use in its war against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Turkey has carried out numerous cross-border offensives in the region to eliminate the hideouts of PKK militants.
Crude oil standoff
The meeting between Erdoğan and Barzani, and the subsequent comments from Turkey’s defense minister, came amid a protracted impasse over the export of Iraqi and KRG crude oil through Turkey.
Turkey halted Iraq’s 450,000 barrels per day of exports running through the northern pipeline on March 25.
This cessation of oil exports was initiated after the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Turkey to pay $1.5 billion in damages for allowing the KRG to sell its oil independently from Baghdad between 2014 and 2018, an action deemed illegal by the Iraqi government. The loss of this crucial revenue stream has cost the KRG over $2.2 billion, according to Reuters.
Despite expectations that oil exports would resume following Turkey’s recent parliamentary and presidential elections, which extended Erdoğan’s rule until 2028, Turkey has been seeking concessions from Baghdad. According to a report by the Al Monitor news website, regional diplomatic sources said Turkey wants Iraq to drop a second arbitration case, which covers oil sales from 2018 to early 2023, before oil exports can be resumed.
Erdoğan’s meeting with Barzani is seen as a key moment to negotiate the deadlock and strengthen bilateral relations.