Turkish President Erdogan Makes First State Visit to Iraq in 12 Years

Turkish President Erdogan's rare visit to Iraq marks a significant development in Turkey-Iraq relations, with new deals on security, trade, and water management, aiming to boost cooperation and address long-standing disputes.

Emmanuel Abara Benson
Updated On
New Update
Turkish President Erdogan Makes First State Visit to Iraq in 12 Years

Turkish President Erdogan Makes First State Visit to Iraq in 12 Years

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his uncommon state visit to Baghdad, Iraq in 12 years on Monday, where he was welcomed by Iraqi officials. During the visit, Erdogan met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and President Abdul Latif Rashid to discuss strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation in various fields.

The two countries signed a strategic framework agreement covering security, prime minister, trade, and energy, as well as a 10-year deal on water resource management. Erdogan and al-Sudani also witnessed the signing of a preliminary agreement for a $17 billion Development Road project, which aims to connect Asia to Europe through Iraq's Al Faw port. The project involves the construction of a 1,200-kilometer highway and railway from Basra to the Turkish border, providing access to the Mersin Port and onward to Europe.

Security cooperation was a key focus of the visit, particularly regarding the presence of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, which has been a contentious issue between the two countries. Erdogan shared his belief that the PKK's presence in Iraqi territory would end soon, and the two leaders agreed to take joint steps against the group, which Turkey and its allies consider a terrorist organization.

Why this matters: Erdogan's visit marks a significant development in the relations between Turkey and Iraq, which have faced tensions in the past. The agreements signed during the visit aim to boost economic ties and address mutual security concerns, particularly regarding the PKK's presence in northern Iraq.

In addition to the meetings in Baghdad, Erdogan also traveled to Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to discuss trade and security with Iraqi Kurdish officials. The visit saw the signing of a total of 26 agreements between Türkiye and Iraq in various fields, including energy, trade, education, tourism, sports, health, and defense, to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

"The new deals represent 'a new turning point in our relations with Iraq,'" Erdogan stated, emphasizing that Turkey understands Iraq's water needs and is keen to cooperate in this field. The visit was seen as an effort to improve strained relations between the two countries and address longstanding disputes, such as water sharing from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Key Takeaways

  • Erdogan made rare state visit to Iraq, met with Iraqi leaders to strengthen ties.
  • Turkey and Iraq signed strategic framework agreement on security, trade, and energy.
  • Parties agreed to take joint steps against PKK presence in northern Iraq.
  • Erdogan and Iraqi officials signed 26 agreements to boost cooperation in various fields.
  • Visit aimed to improve strained Turkey-Iraq relations and address water-sharing disputes.