Baghdad, which we visited with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, seems like a prison due to internal tension and foreign intervention. We could not leave the Green Zone and did not see anyone but state officials. No one was allowed to walk around freely in the city. People talk about thousands of illegal groups. No one can talk about the rule of law in Baghdad, the center of Mesopotamia that produced the first known written law codes in the world in 1700 B.C., let alone state of law.
The legendary city of "The One Thousand and One Nights," Baghdad, the city of the worldly desires, is something of the past. The incredible oil wealth controlled by the city is obviously a curse. Baghdad, with three decades of war, internal tension and assassinations, is now threatened by the menace of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), while it needs to live with internal dangers no less treacherous than ISIS.
Iraq has hit rock bottom. The newly elected president, prime minister and government are trying to find a way out of the abyss. No one can say things are better, but still, the expectations for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took over from Nouri al-Maliki, are great. Despite being a Shiite, Abadi seems to be following a more inclusive policy. The recent actions that show the government is not discriminating against any group and new appointments at the top levels of state and the military are seen as encouraging. Even some Saddam Hussein-era bureaucrats were appointed to top posts.
In short, fear created by ISIS seems to have united all victims. ISIS, while seemingly a consequence of regional upheaval, is actually a project based on global developments and carries a Baathist mentality. This belief is shared by both Turkey and Baghdad. Baathists form the core of ISIS. Baathists' cruelty was intensified with the Abu Ghraib experience - the new form was born in prison under U.S. control and then blossomed under the sponsorship of President Bashar Assad's dictatorship in the political vacuum in Syria.
The U.S. and Iran, which supported Maliki, are to blame for what is now happening in the region. One needs to remember massacres committed in dozens of Sunni villages during the Maliki era and these countries turning a blind eye to these atrocities to realize what is happening now.
The strange thing is that in recent times some tried to put the blame for ISIS on Turkey through a multi-angle operation of manipulation. That's why Davutoğlu's visit to Baghdad was so important in changing this perception. Despite all the attacks, Turkey is seen as a safe harbor of stability and democracy in the region. That's exactly the reason why Shiite, Sunni, Yazidi, Turkmen and Kurdish officials lined up in Baghdad to meet with Davutoğlu.That's why U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin of Russia wanted to visit Turkey.
Iraq breathes in Irbil
Relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the reconciliation process form an important part of the new era. The visit to Irbil was important to make us realize this fact. Irbil, unlike Baghdad, is a haven for the region. Wives and children of top officials who govern Iraq mainly live in Irbil.
While the recent ISIS attacks somewhat hurt it, the region's perception of Turkey is largely positive because Turkey was an important factor in transforming Irbil to what it is today. Despite serious pressure from the U.S. and Iran, the people of Irbil know this as a fact. Progress in the reconciliation process and closer ties with the KRG will bring the flourishing of peace in the region. There are those who are frightened of this, but it is apparent that they will no longer pose an obstacle to progress.