The prime minister of northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for his re-election victory, saying the ties between Ankara and Erbil had improved under the Turkish leader’s watch.
According to Rudaw:
Despite Turkey’s military incursions into northern Iraq against Baghdad’s wishes, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Erdogan in a statement, “During your time in office relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Kurdistan Region have greatly improved which has had its effect on stability and people’s lives. It was also a good example for the region.
Barzani also commended Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) for securing a majority in Parliament during Sunday’s elections by joining forces with a nationalist bloc in Ankara, a move that further consolidates the Turkish president’s sweeping new executive powers.
“We in the Kurdistan Region do once again stress our desire to continue and advance those ties,” Barzani proclaimed.
“During your term, many unfair bans have been lifted and we hope that all sides will stand by you for achieving peace,” he also said, adding, “The Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to support all efforts for peace in the region.”
Turkish opposition leaders and international observers have decried widespread arrests, ballot fraud, and censorship during Sunday’s so-called snap election, scheduled by Erdogan on April 1. The re-elected Turkish president has been in power since 2014.
In recent weeks, Ankara has renewed its offensive against the terrorist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in its stronghold in northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountains region, which borders Iran and Turkey.
PKK fighters have been fighting an insurgency in Turkey for decades that has left tens of thousands dead.
Suggesting that the Turkish operations against the PKK in Iraq would continue, Erdogan vowed in a victory speech Monday that Ankara would “act more decisively” against terrorist organizations, adding Turkey would continue to “liberate Syrian lands.”
Ankara has long considered the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls northern Syria, to be PKK affiliates.
The United States continues to support the YPG as an effective force against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) despite Turkey’s concerns.
U.S. support for the Syrian Kurds has strained America’s relationship with its NATO ally, Turkey.
Officials from the KRG, a long-time Turkish ally, have reportedly called on the PKK to withdraw from Kurdish-held northern Iraq, to no avail.