The Turkish political behaviour towards Iraq under Al-Kazimi government

Abdullah Mohsin Al-Juboori

Turkey was and still looking at Iraq with a strategic depth. This is through linking the political and economic interests which are represented in many files, some are geopolitical, such as (the Kurdish file, the Turkmen file), and geo strategic files, such as (dams, water), also economical files, such as (oil, trade). Therefore, Turkey has worked hard to formulate political behaviour that is compatible with these files which Turkey considers as a key for the foreign policy with Iraq. The Turkish interests follow the succession of Iraqi governments, with the same behaviour, but with fluctuating styles and patterns which dialogue tends to be the dominant feature in it. With the advent of the new Iraqi government chaired by Mr Mustafa Al-Kazimi after the events of Tshreen 2019, Turkey made an official invitation for Al-Kazimi to visit Turkey. The importance of this visit, which came at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 14, 2020, lies in the fact that it came at an important phase in which Turkey’s position in support of Al-Kazimi government, which gained regional and international acceptance, may be the most among all the successive governments that ruled Iraq after 2003.

The visit focused on discussing six files which are important and vital for both countries, including security, economy, energy, water, railways connectivity and visa. That visit culminated in the signing of several memorandums to organize the topics discussed in the visit. In the same context, Erdogan announced at a joint press conference with Al-Kazimi in Ankara “Turkey stands by Iraq in the fight against the terrorist organizations, and supports the integrity of the territory of Iraq with all its components”. He also affirmed on Turkey’s support for cancelling the agreement of double taxation with Iraq. He also stressed on the necessity to make the ground that supports the amount of trade exchange between the two countries, continuing development projects, especially in energy sector, including the important oil pipeline between Kirkuk and Ceyhan.

Regarding the water file, Erdogan said, “It will not be controversial for Turkey and Iraq” pointing at “Turkey understands the importance of water and energy for both countries”.

Accordingly, the Turkish foreign political behaviour towards Iraq is in general a dialogue-negotiating behaviour that works on using the outstanding issues such as water, borders, Turkmen and the rest of the inter-files as negotiating pressure papers in order to obtain influence gains that can make Turkey one of the countries of regional influence on one hand, and to achieve economic interests and assure an increase in trade exchange and energy sources on another hand. This is on the strategic level, while on the current level; Turkey seeks with its behaviour towards Iraq to achieve the following:

– The file of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) is the main threat to its national security, so it seeks to gain Iraq’s support in order to fighting this party.

 – The volume of economic exchange between the two countries exceeds $10 billion, so Turkey is working to maintain and increase this trade flow.

 – The Kurdish state project is among the biggest concerns that threaten the existence of the Turkish State, as Turkey seeks to cooperate with countries of a common concern, including Iraq, over the non-emergence of that state.

Abdullah Mohsin Al-Juboori

October 2021