Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is visiting Iran on Wednesday to discuss issues including Syria’s crisis and the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan that has unsettled both Ankara and Tehran.
Erdoğan will hold discussions with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and be received by the Supreme Leader, as well as attending the fourth meeting of the Turkey-Iran High Level Cooperation Council.
The political dynamic has been altered by the September 25 referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which almost 93% of voters supported independence from Baghdad.
Before and after the ballot, Iran declared that Iraqi Kurdish leaders were serving the interests of the US, Israel, and “Takfiri terrorists”. The Islamic Republic has ordered the cutoff of all oil shipments to and from Iraqi Kurdistan and has announced joint military exercises with Iraq. The Iraqi Government has said that it will work with Iran and Turkey to secure border posts.
The Erdoğan Government, which has had good relations with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, has been more measured in its response. Both Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu have said that “there is a way back” for KRG President Masoud Barzani from his “mistake”.
Saying that events in both Iraq and Syria — where Ankara is concerned about the leading role of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD), seeing it as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK — are “internal matters” for Turkey, Erdoğan told a meeting of his ruling AKP on Tuesday:
We hope northern Iraqi officials, who have destroyed the well-maintained relationship and went further by threatening us, will come to their senses as soon as possible,” n said. “But it [Turkey] will surely increasingly continue [imposing sanctions] if they don’t come to their senses. We will not refrain from taking further steps as occasions require.
On Monday the head of Turkey’s armed forces, Gen. Hulusi Akar, prepared for Erdoğan’s arrival with meetings in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri; the Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani; and Rouhani.
Concerning Syria, Erdoğan and Rouhani are expected to discuss the implementation of a Russia-Iran-Turkey agreement, declared earlier this month, for a de-escalation zone in opposition-held Idlib Province.
Under the arrangement, each of the three countries will send 500 personnel to monitor the zone, with Turkish forces inside the province and Russian and Iranian counterparts on the periphery.
However, the deal has been disturbed since September 19 by Russian-regime bombing across the province killing more than 200 people and hitting civilian sites as well as rebel factions who endorsed de-escalation.