Regional developments and Turkey's relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq were discussed at a closed roundtable hosted by the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) on Tuesday.
A delegation of members from all the parties in the KRG parliament met with Turkish academics at ORSAM on Tuesday while they were in Ankara. Speaking at a closed roundtable, which was held under the Chatham House Rule, KRG deputies expressed their satisfaction about the current level of bilateral relations between Turkey and the KRG and stressed how closer ties would be beneficial both sides.
The KRG deputies, who represent many religions, ethnicities and minority groups such as Kurds, Turkmens and Assyrians, expressed their concern about the threat of an Iran-led Shiite expansion in the region and stressed the necessity of closer KRG-Turkish relations in order to prevent this threat. Regarding the ongoing fight against the DAESH, KRG deputies said that they need more support from Turkey and the international community to defeat it. Touching on the KRG's relations with the Iraqi central government, all the deputies said that the sectarian policies during former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's time in power the KRG's relations with Baghdad and stressed Baghdad's role in the KRG's economic crisis by not sending the KRG's share of oil revenues to Irbil for months.
The deputies praised the ruling AK Party government for starting reconciliation process with the PKK in 2013 and granting democratic rights to the Kurdish population in Turkey by establishing democratic reforms. The deputies also expressed their displeasure with the current conflict between the PKK and security forces in southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq and said the PKK is responsible for ending the reconciliation process and re-starting its violence.
Asserting that the PKK aims to control areas in the KRG region, deputies said that in the past the KRG's peshmerga forces had fight with the PKK to prevent it. Adding that the PKK sabotaged a key oil pipeline from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey's Ceyhan Port in recent months, the KRG deputies described the PKK as a threat to the KRG as well as Turkey.
Masoud Barzani last week said: "The tribal leaders fleeing PYD violence came to us for shelter. We have always been aware that waiting for peace for 10 years is more valuable than fighting for a day. [Bashar] Assad took the advantage provided by the PYD, but didn't pledge anything to guarantee the status of the Kurdish people."