This article is a joint product of Rusorient and SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence; Thanks to J.Hawk for the help with the English text.
In late December, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani announced its intention to carry out a referendum on separating itself from Iraq. The date for the referendum was not announced. Turkish media refrained from commenting on this development, only Samanyoluhaber published an article underscoring the danger of such actions, obviously realizing the reaction by, first and foremost, Iraq’s leadership.
Last week the president of Kyrgyzstan stated Turkey ought to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Turkish press reacted with surprise, being genuinely perplexed at how a Turkic state could treat its ethnic kin like that. The papers included Aksam, Milliyet, Cihan, Cumhuriyet, and others.
On December 24 the president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani Akhmadzai met Erdogan during his two-day visit. The two signed a memorandum of understanding, a declaration of intent, and also an agreement to collaborate on security matters. Cumhuriyet and Aksam supported the Turkish government on the matter of expanding collaboration with Afghanistan. Sabah was reserved in its coverage which suggests that the Turkish government views its relationship with Afghanistan as businesslike.
The emergency meeting of the Arab League, held on the request of Iraq on December 24, was quite important for Turkey’s foreign policy. At the meeting’s end, Arab League states demanded that Turkey withdraw its troops from the region of the city of Mosul, emphasizing that their presence there is a direct violation of international law and Iraq’s sovereignty. The next day, December 25, Turkish MFA spokesman Tanhu Bilgic responded to Arab League’s demand. The statement underscored Turkey’s supposed desire to ensure regional security and does not view it as an act of aggression. Moreover, Turkish MFA attempted to blame the Arab League states in not doing anything to fight terrorism. Most media refrained from commenting, however, Hurriyet and Vatan attempted to defend government policies and justify Turkish actions. Cumhuriyet once again cautiously underscored the riskiness of Turkish aggressive policies.
The week ended with the official visit by the Prime Minister of the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan Necirvan Barzani, during which he met with PM Davutoglu and President Erdogan. The two sides discussed bilateral cooperation, fighting terrorism, and also matters concerning regional situation. Milliyet supposed the two sides also discussed Turkish troops’ presence in Iraq. Most Turkish media took a neutral stance, including Zaman, Milliyet, and Hurriyet. Sabah, which does not a firm position, adopted a positive view on the expansion of contacts between the two sides.