The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani paid a visit to Turkey on Wednesday to hold a series of official talks with Turkish authorities. He greeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying: "As-salamu alaykum," and Erdoğan responded: "Wa-Alaikum as-Salaam." A KRG flag was also present in the meeting room when Barzani visited both Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu. These were symbolic gestures that aroused excitement.
Barzani broke another new ground during his visit and went to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters. The information I obtained from security sources suggests that Barzani was given a detailed briefing about the reinforcement of Turkish troops in Bashiqa and about the contributions that Turkey can offer the KRG in the struggle against DAESH from now on.
For some reason, the Turkish military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan, which started in the 1990s, and has increased in proportion to DAESH's invasion since 2014, has grown into a crisis with the reinforcement of that presence with 400 soldiers to the military base in Bashiqa. It was supposed that the Baghdad administration, which failed to save Ramadi from DAESH even though it is right next to Baghdad, would be happy with Turkey, which contributed the forces necessary to save Mosul from DAESH in a future operation by deploying troops to Bashiqa, and the soldiers are of strategic importance to save the city. However, as can be seen in Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's extremely dramatic call to withdraw, the Iraqi government preferred to have an exaggerated response. The Iraqi administration completely opens its doors to Iranian forces and Hezbollah militants who are blamed for conducting ethnic cleansing against Sunni residents. Nevertheless, as Turkish authorities act with sensitivity to the possibility of any misunderstanding, the undersecretaries of the MİT and Foreign Ministry paid an official visit to Baghdad on Thursday to explain what roles Turkey can play in the struggle against DAESH.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has been providing military training to KRG peshmerga troops in Iraqi Kurdistan for a long time. According to a news report published by Rudaw, a leading media group in the KRG, Turkey provides the greatest support for peshmerga troops. Official sources say that so far a total of 2,308 peshmerga soldiers from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have gone through Turkey's military training at four different centers. Saying that this number makes Turkey the country that provides the greatest training support to peshmerga forces, Rudaw suggests that the content of military training given by TSK specialists, include training in mortars, anti-aircraft systems, first aid, urban warfare, handmade explosives, immediate intervention and artillery.
Peshmerga forces, which saved Sinjar from DAESH in 36 hours, showed that they could be an influential ground force when they are given the necessary support. Issuing a statement after the operation, Peshmerga Operations Unit Commander Kahraman Kemal said the training that the TSK provided the peshmerga units was determinative in the rescue of Sinjar. So any country that prioritizes the struggle against DAESH should stop complaining about the contribution the TSK offers peshmerga soldiers in the fight against DAESH, as Turkey is the only NATO member in the region and one of the strongest militaries in the world, and should instead seek ways of enhancing such contributions.