Erdogan says to build walls on Iran, Iraq borders

June 2, 2017

TEHRAN - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that his country plans to construct walls along its borders with Iran and Iraq, similar to the one currently being erected along the frontier with Syria.

Turkey has so far completed the construction of a 650-kilometer (403-mile) stretch of the wall along the 911-kilometer border with Syria, according to Erdogan. 

Ankara began building the wall in 2014 to tighten up its security by preventing infiltrations of Kurdish militants and ISIS group fighters as well as refugees from Syria.

Erdogan said Turkey aims to build along its entire border with Syria.

He added: "We'll do the same along the Iraqi border and in appropriate places along the Iranian border."

Turkey shares a 499-kilometer border with Iran in the east. Two major trade partners, Iran and Turkey have had a generally peaceful, secure borderline since the establishment of the modern states though there have been sporadic border intrusions.

Earlier in May, Tehran formally reacted to reports on Turkey’s decision to construct the wall, voicing no opposition to it. 

Tehran, however, underscored that Ankara must notify Tehran before any move to implement its decision. 

In fact, the wall, once it has been constructed, would prevent smuggling of billions of dollars of goods from Turkey to Iran, which has caused Iranian small businesses, particularly garment-producing ones, to go bankrupt over the past years. 

Ankara has voiced concerns about land intrusion from camps inside Iran of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants who have carried out terrorist attacks in Turkey. 

Ankara blames the PKK, which seeks a separate Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey, for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed struggle in 1984.

Armed confrontation between Ankara and PKK militants have escalated recently as Turkish forces are conducting land and airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northern Iraq and Syria, where Kurdish forces are pushing back ISIS terrorists, infuriating Ankara.  

Iran has rejected claims that PKK militants launch attacks against Turkey from inside the Iranian soil. 

In its western borders, Iran is fighting the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an outlawed, terrorist group that seeks self-governance for Iran's Kurds and has links to the PKK, killing five of them in an ambush last June. 

PJAK randomly carries out random attacks on Iranian targets for decades now. 

On Saturday, PJAK militants killed two Iranian border guards and injured seven more in a clash in western Iran. 

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