The Iraqi Kurdish public was euphoric yesterday with the Kurds openly displaying pleasure after Ankara welcomed Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani with open arms and treated him with the protocol accorded to heads of state. Kurds were thrilled that Turkey hoisted their flag as well as the Turkish and Iraqi flags at the airport, which they said is a sign of the deep respect shown to the Iraqi Kurds.The delegation headed by Barzani emphasized their pleasure over this welcome to this columnist, saying the red carpet treatment was unprecedented for them. The fact that Barzani has traveled to Ankara many times in the past three decades adds extra meaning to the pleasure they are displaying over their reception in Ankara.
The recent events in the region, the barbaric DAESH terrorists, Russian intervention in Syria and the power play in Iraq by Iran have brought Ankara and Irbil much closer together.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have voiced their strong support for the KRG, led by Barzani, and the Kurds of Iraq have in return reciprocated with statements of solidarity with Ankara.
After the June 7 elections when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) suffered a bitter setback in the polls, the adversaries of the Barzani administration were attacking the KRG for siding with Erdoğan and saying cynically, "now your closest ally is gone in Ankara and you are left on your own..." Today those people are red faced after the AK party won by a landslide in the Nov. 1 polls and is in a stronger political state than ever before. That is why Ankara gave the message out to everyone concerned that it will stand behind Barzani at all costs.
Turkey sees the stability of the KRG as vital for its interests and wants the region to remain an island of stability in the midst of the Iraqi inferno. So it will help the KRG in every way possible in their battle against the threats not only from DAESH but from all other adversaries of the Kurds.
Both Ankara and Irbil are concerned with DAESH's barbaric behavior. Both Ankara and Irbil are concerned that the PKK militants are trying to expand their areas of influence in Northern Iraq like their presence in the Sinjar region. Both also feel the PKK should stop its terrorist activities in Turkey and allow the Turkish government to take measures so that the Kurds of Turkey feel they are the first class citizens of the Turkish Republic.
Besides this, Turkey and the KRG are opposed to those fueling sectarian conflict in the Middle East in general and specifically in Iraq.
The KRG does not want to be pulled into any controversy with the Russian presence in the region, however, they too have started to suffer because of this as the Russians fire their missiles from the Caspian Sea into Syria thus flying over Iraqi Kurdish airspace and actually just above Irbil airport thus paralyzing Iraqi air traffic. The KRG says this has been going on for the past 10 days causing serious psychological, security and economic problems for the Kurds. So Russian intransigence is hurting them and they want this to stop.
The KRG is ready to help ease Turkey's energy problems but officials warn it will be two years before Iraqi Kurdish natural gas reaches Turkish consumers.
All in all Ankara and Irbil have moved closer as natural allies in a region of turmoil. It will take sensible people in Ankara and Irbil to work together to sort out these problems. This is what is being done at the moment.