Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Kurdistan: Barzani, Turkish Defense Minister discuss Shingal agreement, removing 'unauthorized armed forces' from district

Jan 19, 2021. Greece.


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region


Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar met on Tuesday with Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani  to discuss implementing the Erbil-Baghdad agreement on the disputed district of Shingal, stressing the "importance" of  removing militias and "unauthorized armed forces" from the area.

Akar arrived in Erbil from Baghdad on Monday evening and was received by the Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Peshmerga Shorsh Ismail, Kurdistan Region Presidency’s chief of staff Fawzi Hariri, and the head of the Department of Foreign Relations Safeen Dizayee.

He met with PM Barzani and Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Tuesday.

The importance of implementing the Shingal agreement was stressed in the meeting as well as “the evacuation of militias and unauthorized armed forces” to stabilize Shingal, read a Tuesday statement from the PM's office.

Baghdad reached a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)  in October over the governance and security of Shingal, in Nineveh province, to resolve a number of issues preventing displaced Shingalis from returning to the area. Under the Erbil-Baghdad agreement, security for the troubled region will be Baghdad's responsibility and federal government will have to establish a new armed force recruited from the local population and expel fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and their affiliated groups.

The district, once mostly home to Iraq’s Yazidi minority, has been under the control of multiple groups since its liberation from the Islamic State (ISIS). 

Turkey has targeted the district in several airstrikes.  

Turkey launched renewed airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories in mid-June, dubbed Operation Claw-Eagle. Said to target the PKK, numerous civilians were killed in the strikes. The ground operation, Claw-Tiger, concluded in September.

Shingal was targeted several times in Operation Claw-Eagle, and also saw aerial attacks from Ankara before the offensive. 

The PKK – which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization - is a Kurdish armed group that has fought the Turkish state for decades for increased rights for the country’s Kurdish minority. Its headquarters are in the Kurdistan Region's Qandil mountains, but PKK-affiliated groups are also found in the mountains around Shingal.

Both Erbil and Baghdad have repeatedly called on Ankara to halt its attacks and have demanded the PKK cease using Kurdistan Region and Iraqi territory to launch attacks on Turkey.

“Cooperation and the continuity of friendly ties between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey was stressed, especially cooperation and collaboration for stability and security in the region,” added Tuesday’s statement.

Akar also met with the leader of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the former president of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani on Tuesday.

“We discussed the ongoing cooperation between Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and Turkey and stressed the significance of further strengthening that correlation,” Barzani said in a tweet.

Akar met in Baghdad with Iraq’s President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi and other senior Iraqi officials on Monday. Iraqi and Turkish relations were discussed, according to the presidency office, as well as respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and developing military cooperation between the two states.

The meetings were supposed to be held in August last year but an airstrike by Turkey in Erbil province’s Bradost area on August 11 which resulted in the death of two senior Iraqi border officials, both Kurds, raised tensions between the two sides.