The head of the Iraqi Parliament, Osama Al Nujaifi’s visit to Turkey

November 22, 2011, Tuesday/ 10:50:00/ BİLGAY DUMAN

This week, Turkey will host another Iraqi authority. The Head of the Iraqi Parliament Osama Al Nujaifi is expected to pay a visit to Turkey in forthcoming days. Al Nujaifi is one of the Iraqi leaders, who is not strange to Turkey at all both because of his visits to Turkey and also because of his opinions on Turkey.

It is expected that during the visit of Al Nujaifi, who will make his third visit within the year 2011, the terrorist organization PKK and the water issue between Turkey and Iraq will be at his agenda. It could be said that especially the issue of terrorist organization PKK will be discussed in detail. As a matter of fact, besides the Vice President of Iraq Tariq Al-Hashim, the Deputy Chairman of KDP and Former Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdish regional government Nechirvan Barzani paid a visit to Turkey as well. And in the first week of November, the President of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government Massoud Barzani made a visit to Turkey, and he met  President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu.

In addition to the talks, which were carried out with the Kurdish Regional Government on the entity of the terrorist organization PKK in northern Iraq which has become the primary concern in relations between Turkey and Iraq in recent period; as the central government has the border responsibility, it is quite important to include the Iraqi central government to the process as well. Within this scope, it is possible to say that Nujaifi's visit is also of the essence. On the other hand, the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government has not still taken a concrete step on the entity of terrorist organization PKK in northern Iraq. In this respect, it is considered that Iraqi central government's taking an initiative would be effective in eliminating the terrorist organization PKK in Iraq. At least,  in a period, when the process of U.S.' withdrawal from Iraq was launched (with whom intelligence was shared), and when the security control including the airspace control within the country was  handed over the Iraqi security forces, Nujaifi's visit to Turkey is quite important in terms of ensuring continuity in fight against terrorism.

In addition to this, it is considered that Nujaifi's visit to Turkey should be assessed both in regional terms and also in terms of the Iraqi domestic policy. In his statement in June, Osama Al Nujaifi made certain statements such as; the Sunni were excluded from the Iraqi government and thus it is necessary to establish a separate region for the Sunni; and then, he mentioned that these statements were misunderstood. And last October, after Salahaddin Provincial Administration, where the Sunni population is dense, declared the decision of autonomous region; the fact that Nujaifi made statements supporting this decision increased the pressure on Nujaifi. In this period, it can be expected from Nujaifi, who comes to Turkey, to be in quest of support during his visit. When considered in terms of regional policy, the regional issues' –Syria and Iran in particular– coming to the forefront is considered as inevitable. Including the suspension of the membership by the Arab League on November 12th 2011, after “severe” sanction decisions were taken against Syria, and only Iraq abstained from a vote, the assessment of Turkey's and Iraq's Syrian policies is also possible. Especially in Syria, the attempts to attack against Turkey's diplomatic missions are such as to affect the next political attitudes of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, who are border neighbours to each others. On the other hand, it is said that Nujaifi will also bring the water issue up to the agenda again. In this respect, it is considered that bringing the issues related to Euphrates and Tigris, having their origins in Turkey and flowing to the both countries, up to the agenda could lead to strategic political changes in relations between Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

As a result, it is considered that Nujaifi's visit to Turkey could have consequences both in terms of relations between the countries, and also on Iraqi domestic policy and regional policies. In addition to this, it can also be said that Nujaifi's visit is important in terms of the continuity of Turkey's influence on Iraqi policy. It is possible to say that Turkey's relations with Iraq should be kept at a certain level, in order to prevent the power vacuum, which could come out in Iraq especially after  withdrawal of the U.S., from having negative affects on Turkey.

»» Bilgay Duman, ORSAM Middle East Expert, A.I.B.U., I.R. PhD Programme