Conflict shows new, closer Turk-Iraqi Kurdish ties

The Wall Street Journal reports: The military posture of northern Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to defend itself against advancing Islamist rebels spotlights a reversal in one of the region’s most toxic relationships: Between Turkey and the Kurds.

In previous years, Kurdish assertiveness — even in neighboring Iraq — was often countered by Turkey, which for more than a quarter century was locked in a deadly conflict with Kurdish separatists in its own country before launching peace talks in 2012.

But since the U.S. invasion of Iraq more than a decade ago, Turkey has built close ties to the Kurdish government in its regional capital of Erbil, Iraq, expanding bilateral trade and coordinating vital policy issues, including the civil war in Syria.

Underscoring that trend, Turkey has kept mum on Erbil’s mobilization to defend its borders this past week by deploying its Peshmerga troops into the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk. In past decades, Turkey has fiercely objected any Kurdish advances in Kirkuk, maintaining that the city has a multi-ethnic character and a large population of Iraqi Turkmens.

Turkey is itself preoccupied with freeing about 80 hostages captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) when the Sunni Muslim rebel group captured Mosul this past week.

Kurdish officials now agree that the fate of Turkey and the Kurds are entwined, and policy increasingly reflects shared economic and security interests. [Continue reading…]

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