News ID: 201745
Published: 0827 GMT October 04, 2017

Kurdish secession tops Erdogan's agenda in Iran visit (Video)

Kurdish secession tops Erdogan's agenda in Iran visit (Video)
Ahead of Erdogan's visit to Iran, Turkey asked Baghdad on Tuesday to take over from the Kurds the control of the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan (AP)

Analysts said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has much more at stake in his meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

Erdogan is due to arrive in Iran on Wednesday to hold crucial talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On the outcome of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum and other regional security issues, AL JAZEERA reported.

Erdogan's visit to Tehran comes as Ankara continues to seek regional consensus on how to block efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to split from Iraq ― a move Turkey fears would have a domino effect on its own 15 million ethnic Kurdish population.  

Ahead of Erdogan's visit, the Turkish foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that it wants Baghdad to take over from the KRG, the control of the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.

On Sunday, Erdogan told parliament members in Ankara that he expects to draw up an agreement with Iran, on how to respond to the KRG referendum.

Turkish and Iranian analysts agree that while Erdogan's visit is important for both countries, Ankara has much more at stake on its outcome than Tehran.

From a military and security perspective, Erdogan's visit to Iran is ‘very important’, as Turkey considers more sanctions on the KRG and its regional capital Erbil, including the shutting of its borders, said Sinem Koseoglu, Al Jazeera's Turkey-based correspondent and analyst.

She said that Turkey could leverage its warming relations with Iran to put more pressure on the KRG to backtrack from its plan to declare an independent state.

On Monday, Erdogan dispatched Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military Chief of General Staff, to Tehran, the first ever visit for a top Turkish military official since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

At their meeting, Akar and Iran's military chief, Mohammed Hossein Baqeri, condemned the Kurdish referendum as unconstitutional. In August, Baqeri also became the first ever top military official to visit Ankara since 1979.

Akar also held separate talks with President Rouhani, who at the meeting warned that the deterioration of geographical boundaries, in the event of a KRG split from Iraq, would harm regional security and stability.

For his part, Akar said that Turkey and Iran, "will play an important role in the region's stability and peace with improving cooperation", following the Kurdish referendum.

On September 25, voters in Iraq's Kurdish region voted overwhelmingly to back a split from Baghdad, setting off a regional crisis.

Neighboring Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq's central government in Baghdad have opposed the referendum, and have threatened to impose sanctions on the KRG should it decide to go ahead with its decision to declare an independent state.

The United Nations and the US, have also opposed the Kurdish referendum, saying it would distract operations against Daesh, as well as the civil war in Syria.

In the last week following the Kurdish referendum, Turkey has held joint military exercises with Iraq. Separately, Iraq also announced joint military exercises with Iran.

But so far, there have been no agreement reached on military exercises between Turkey and Iran.

AL JAZEERA
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