KRG Deputy PM Requests Turkey Reconsider Closing Airspace to Sulaymaniyah Flights During Erdogan Visit

KRG Deputy PM urges Erdogan to reconsider flight ban on Sulaymaniyah airport, highlighting economic impact and regional dynamics. Turkey extends ban, citing PKK concerns, as KRG navigates complex relations.

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Ayesha Mumtaz
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KRG Deputy PM Requests Turkey Reconsider Closing Airspace to Sulaymaniyah Flights During Erdogan Visit

KRG Deputy PM Requests Turkey Reconsider Closing Airspace to Sulaymaniyah Flights During Erdogan Visit

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani has requested that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconsider closing Turkish airspace to flights from al-Sulaymaniyah International Airport during Erdogan's scheduled visit to the Kurdistan Region. Talabani made the request during a meeting with Erdogan, urging him to keep the airspace open to maintain the region's connectivity and economic activities.

Turkey has extended the flight ban on Sulaymaniyah International Airport until June 2024, citing an "intensification" of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) activities in the Sulaymaniyah province. The measure follows an incident in March 2023 where two helicopters carrying Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) members crashed in the Kurdistan Region, resulting in several deaths. Turkey has accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of supporting the PKK, leading to punitive measures against the Sulaymaniyah province, including the flight ban.

The PUK denies these allegations, but Turkey is gearing up for a military operation into the Kurdistan Region to target PKK guerrillas and establish a security buffer zone along the Iraqi-Turkish border. The flight ban has been in place since 2017, when Turkey first imposed it in response to the Kurdish independence referendum held in the Kurdistan Region.

Why this matters: The ongoing flight ban has significant economic and social implications for the Sulaymaniyah province and the broader Kurdistan Region. The closure of Turkish airspace to flights from al-Sulaymaniyah International Airport disrupts travel, trade, and connectivity for the region's residents and businesses.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani's request to President Erdogan highlights the KRG's efforts to maintain positive relations with Turkey while advocating for the interests of the Kurdish people. The outcome of this request and Erdogan's response will have important consequences for the stability and prosperity of the Kurdistan Region, as well as for the complex dynamics between the KRG, Turkey, and the various Kurdish political factions.

Key Takeaways

  • KRG Deputy PM requests Erdogan to reconsider closing airspace to Sulaymaniyah airport.
  • Turkey extends flight ban on Sulaymaniyah airport until June 2024, citing PKK activities.
  • Turkey accuses PUK of supporting PKK, leading to punitive measures against Sulaymaniyah.
  • Flight ban disrupts travel, trade, and connectivity for Kurdistan Region's residents and businesses.
  • Outcome of KRG's request will impact stability and prosperity of Kurdistan Region.