An Iraqi security official will shortly hold a meeting with Turkey’s National Intelligence Chief in Ankara regarding the status of anti-PKK operations in the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar. According to Baghdad, Iraqi troops are in the midst of conducting an operation to neutralise PKK terrorists who had set up a base in the northern Iraqi town.
Many conflicting media reports have abounded on the subject of the anti-PKK operation in northern Iraq. Some reports have suggested Turkish troops are already in Iraq, although these have now been exposed as false. Others have stated that Iraq and Turkey are at odds over the anti-PKK operation, but in reality it appears that while some communications may have been poorly coordinated, Ankara and Baghdad are now set to work out a common strategy to fight a common terrorist enemy.
This is not the first time that Turkey and Iraq cooperated against Kurdish terrorists. In the autumn of 2017, Turkey and Iran helped to enforce a no-fly zone over northern Iraq as Baghdad sent in the armed forces to quash a secessionist Kurdish insurgency led by local Peshmerga militants. While the Peshmerga and PKK are not allies, since the quashing of the Kurdish insurgency in Iraq, PKK forces have moved into Iraq in order to set up anti-Turkish operations with the implied consent of at least some of the autonomous Kurdish authorities based in Erbil.
Turkey has threatened to cross into Iraq to neutralise the PKK in Sinjar. Turkish and Iraqi authorities will now discuss the details of such an operation that the Iraqis likely intend to accomplish by themselves. According to a statement from President Erdogan,
“Yesterday I received information from our intelligence that the Iraqi leadership had started some military operations in Sinjar (against the PKK). We are monitoring what is happening there. Today, an official representative of the [Iraqi] government will arrive to Turkey and after his talks with the head of our intelligence there will be concrete results. We want the leadership of Iraq to conduct this operation independently, but if there are problems, we will hold new negotiations with Baghdad and do everything necessary”.
While Turkey prepares for a possible joint anti-terrorist operation in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Syria continues, in spite of US protestations.