From PKK to corridor project: Ambitious agenda awaits Turkey’s Erdogan in Iraq

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s expected visit to Iraq in mid-April will likely advance discussions on an ambitious transport corridor project, as Ankara seeks increased cooperation in combating Kurdish militants who are engaged in fighting against Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced earlier this month that Erdogan will visit Baghdad following the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Among the top agenda items to be discussed during the trip, which will mark Erdogan’s first visit to the country since 2011, are security cooperation — particularly against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), efforts to resume oil flow from an oil pipeline linking the two countries and the Development Road project to link Ira’s oil-rich southern Basra province to Europe via Turkey.

The Turkish president’s trip comes at a crucial time, right after Iraq made a significant gesture toward Ankara in banning the PKK. Headquartered in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, the PKK has been fighting Ankara for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey since the 1980s. Turkey, the United States and most EU states consider the group a terrorist organization. 

In turn, Turkey is likely to offer temporary relief for Iraq’s water shortage by releasing the gates of its many dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Water-sharing problems between the two countries remain one of the long-standing disputes.

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