By Payman Yazdani

CHP member: Iran and Turkey won’t allow division of Iraq

August 20, 2017

TEHRAN - Calling the Kurdish independence referendum as the eye of the next hurricane in the region, a senior member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (CHP) says Turkey and Iran won’t allow any efforts to divide Iraq.

The remarks by Osman Faruk Logoglu comes as General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the Iranian armed forces chief of staff, made a visit to Ankara for talks with high ranking Turkish officials. During his three-day trip, which ended on Thursday, Baqeri met his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, and President Erdogan.  

The talks were primarily aimed at narrowing differences on the Syria crisis and coordinating policy on Iraq.

“They (Turkey and Iran) would not allow any effort that could lead to the division of Iraq,” Logoglu tells the Mehr news agency. 

Here is the full text of the interview:

What is the importance of General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, to Turkey?
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Baqeri's visit to Turkey at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart is highly important for at least several reasons.  First, the visit is significant because of its timing.  Important developments in Iraq, Syria and in the fight against terrorism are creating common security concerns and thus drawing the two neighbors closer together to consult and coordinate their policies.  The importance of the visit is also attested by his reception and the length of his stay in Turkey.  He is being received by President Erdo?an and is to meet with the Minister of National Defense and chief of intelligence. Finally, the symbolism of the visit: it is the first visit by an Iranian Chief of Staff to Turkey in nearly four decades.  The last such visit was in 1979.  
The visit once again demonstrates the ability of these two regional powers to come together when their national interests converge, despite ongoing differences over other issues.  

Why did Turkey decide to construct a wall at border with Iran?

Closer cooperation along the Turkish-Iranian border has certainly been among the items discussed. Both sides agree on the need to prevent smuggling activities and terrorist infiltrations across their mutual border.  Turkish authorities have already completed the paper work for the construction of the wall covering some 144 kilometers.  It is reported that the wall will be similar to the one Turkey built along its border with Syria, with fortified cement blocks, lighting and a paved road alongside the wall.  Iranian authorities are said to have welcomed the project.  

What is your assessment of Iran-Turkey common stance on independence referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan region promised by Masoud Barzani?

The Kurdish referendum on 25 September is the eye of the next hurricane in the region. Turkey and Iran have already stated their objections to this step, expressing their support for the territorial integrity of Iraq. Baghdad and even some Kurdish groups oppose the referendum.  The US has said “no” and the UN has declined any involvement.  Whether or not Barzani will change his mind, we will have to wait and see.  But even if he goes ahead and gets a “yes”, it will not automatically lead to a declaration of Kurdish independence on September 26.  Barzani will bid his time and put the “yes” in his pocket as a trump card to be put on the table for independence at the most opportune time in the future.  The positions of Turkey and Iran are crucial in this respect because both countries have Kurdish populations of their own. They would not allow any effort that could lead to the division of Iraq. General Baqeri’s visit should help chart a course of coordinated action on the Kurdish issue in the region.  

What will be the effect of the visit on the ongoing developments in Syria?

The urgent and critical issue is Syria.  The questions of Afrin, Idlib and de-escalation zones will surely be discussed in depth during General Baqeri’s visit.  The sides will also exchange views on the next round of the Turkey-Iran-Russia trilateral in Astana at the end of the month, a meeting that could determine some of the next landmarks in the development of the Syrian conflict. I have always argued that Turkish-Iranian cooperation is the key to the resolution of the Syrian conflict.  Regional ownership is the most effective way to forestall interventions by powers outside the region.  I hope General Baqeri’s visit serves this purpose.”      
 
 

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