The Iraqi government has condemned the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Iraqi Kurdistan and his subsequent stop in the disputed city of Kirkuk.
On Thursday, Davutoglu visited the oil hub and northern city Kirkuk to meet with high-ranking province officials. The visit comes one day after the Turkish Foreign Minister met with Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil (Hawler).
The city of Kirkuk is part of a territory subject to a repeatedly postponed and currently unscheduled referendum determining if it will join the Iraqi Kurdish territories.
Iraq’s federal government condemned Davutogulu’s visit on Thursday. “It is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations of non-compliance and simplest regulations in the relationship between states and officials,” said the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in a statement on their website, “At the same time we are surprised at the position of the regional government, which facilitated the visit without knowledge of the federal government.”
During his visit with the Iraqi Kurdish leader on Wednesday Davutoglu discussed the conflict in Syria. According to the website of the Kurdish Regional Presidency(KRP) Barzani and Davutoglu“emphasized that any attempt to exploit the power vacuum by any violent group or organization will be considered as a common threat, which should be jointly addressed. The new Syria should be free of any terrorist and extremist group or organization.”
The Kudistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey has a tenuous relationship with Ankara and maintains a strong presence along the Syria border.
Over the last two years, Barzani has strengthened Iraqi Kurdish relations with Ankara amid strained relations with Baghdad and has largely acted autonomously when dealing with the Erdogan administration.
The breakdown in Barzani and Iraqi President Nouri Al-Maliki’s relationship has culminated in the Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Natural Resources announcing a halt to the end of oil exports if the Iraqi government fails to issue payments owed to the regional government.
In a letter to three oil companies and posted on the KRP’s website, Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami said, “If the payments are not released by the end of this period, then we agree to halt all the export at the mid-night of 31st August.”
Hawrami also stated that if Baghdad were to deliver on their outstanding payments, target export rates would double from 100,000 barrels a day to 20,000 bpd.
Baghdad owes the KRG 1.5 million USD in oil revenues needed to pay oil-producing companies in its region.
Hawrami’s proposal intends to mount pressure on Baghdad to make the payments as he states in his letter, “I am counting on your support to go along with this plan, which may not succeed, but will help to demonstrate to the doubters that the fault rests squarely with Baghdad.”