Turkish Kurdish delegations visit northern Iraq

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By Fareed Hussein

Azzaman, January 21, 2013

Groups representing major Kurdish cities are visiting the semi-independent Kurdish region in northern Iraq, to voice their support of its local government, Turkish Kurdish delegates said.

Delegations from six municipalities of major Kurdish cities in Turkey are  holding talks with Iraqi Kurdish authorities mainly to boost economic ties.

However, Iraqi Kurdish officials privately say the visit by Turkish Kurdish delegations comes in the aftermath of a rupture in ties with the central government in Baghdad.

Mahmoud Othman, the most senior Kurdish official in Baghdad and the head of the Kurdish bloc in the Iraqi parliament said visits by Kurds from neighboring states to the Kurdish region were normal.

“It is natural for Kurds in neighboring states to support their brethren in Iraq. We are one nation and one people,” he said.

However, he added that there was no “political dimension” to the visit and the talks centered solely on economic ties.

Heading a team from the Turkish Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Abdullah Dimerbash said: “There are currently six Turkish Kurdish delegations in northern Iraq holding talks with its regional government officials to boost bilateral ties.

“The (six) cities back the (Iraqi Kurdish) region’s stand in the face of policies by Baghdad.”

Analysts say the visit by Turkish Kurds could not have been possible without a green light from Ankara where the Turkish authorities have been lashing out at the government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Iraqi Kurds have full autonomy with cultural, linguistic and economic rights as well as a regional government that administers their region independently from Baghdad.

Turkish Kurds are denied their basic rights and Turkish warplanes frequently attack Iraqi Kurdish villages ostensibly in pursuit of Turkish Kurdish rebels.