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Turkish President Erdogan will visit Iraq next week

2024-04-21 17:13:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Turkish President Erdogan will visit Iraq next week

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iraq next week, for the first time in more than a decade. During this visit, Mr. Erdogan will seek Iraq's support for his fight against Kurdish insurgents based in Iraq, and the visit also aims to counter Iran's influence.

At the top of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's agenda in Baghdad is securing support for Turkey's planned offensive against the Kurdish insurgent group, the PKK. PPK has been using Iraq as a base for decades to wage its war against Turkish forces.

Analysts are of the opinion that Turkey has a plan.

"Turkey wants to start a comprehensive strategy that has an economic, social and security basis. And in the meantime expand the capacities of the Iraqi security forces and in that way Iraq can become more secure and Turkey can feel more secure", says Murat Aslan, from the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research.

Last month, Ankara scored a diplomatic victory when Iraqi authorities banned the PKK. President Erdogan has other advantages to secure concessions. Iraq is currently experiencing a drought, and official Baghdad is asking Turkey to open dams to release more water into the rivers flowing through Iraq, a request the Turkish leader says he is willing to consider.

Analysts say deepening trade relations is also an important part of the Turkish president's agenda. It aims to increase the international transit of goods through Iraq as part of a new trade route between China and Europe.

According to the former Turkish diplomat, who served in Iraq, this is also the purpose of Mr. Erdogan's visit to Iraq.

"The focal point of this presidential visit to Iraq, to ??Baghdad and Erbil, will be the so-called development road, which will connect the port of Basra with the Turkish border or with a new border point," he says.

Mr Erdogan says he may visit Erbil, the capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan, with which the Turkish leader has developed close relations.

Analysts, however, warn that his aim to expand Turkish influence in Iraq could be thwarted by Iran, which has considerable influence in Iraq.

"In Baghdad, not even the sun rises without Iran's approval. How will it be possible for Ankara to create the conditions and build the capacity to cooperate with Iraq? It still seems controversial and impossible to me", says Aydin Selcen, former Turkish diplomat.

Some observers say Baghdad hopes Ankara will balance Tehran's influence, especially now in the face of speculation that the United States may withdraw its remaining forces from Iraq.

"Many of the elite circles in Iraq are not satisfied with the extensive influence that Iran exerts over their country, and Turkey can balance it. And I think that Turkey wants to play the role of balancer here, because like every country in the region, it is not very satisfied with the power that Iran has in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen."

Analysts say that Mr. Erdogan's visit to Iraq may bring changes, but it may also fuel the historic rivalry between Turkey and Iran./ VOA

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