A number of critical developments have occurred in the relationship between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan; most recently, Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region, visited the Turkish city of Diyarbakir on November 16, 2013, indicating Turkey’s desire to further build its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan. This development comes amid brusque shifts in the nature of alliances in the region following the Arab Spring revolutions, including the sharp sectarian divide over the Syrian crisis; the stumbling negotiations between Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran over the NABUCCO pipeline; and the improved relations between the Kurdistan Region’s government and Iraq’s federal government.
With developments in Iraq taking a further downturn due to increased security challenges and the emergence of a protest movement in the Sunni-majority western provinces, Turkey has started to question the future of its energy security and its dependability on Baghdad. In contrast, the persistent growth of Iraqi Kurdistan’s economy and energy industry, accompanied by the Region’s relative stability compared to the rest of Iraq, has turned the region into an open market for Turkish companies. Ankara has now turned to Iraqi Kurdistan for its energy after the Turkish government accepted the constitutional right of the Kurdistan region to sign oil contracts with international oil companies, provided that the oil proceeds are shared with the Iraqi government in accordance with the Iraqi constitution. Cooperation on commercial and energy domains has reflected positively on cooperation over other issues where Ankara has found it fitting to involve the Kurdistan Region, namely the ongoing peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It would appear the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) wants to resolve the Kurdish question in Turkey through peaceful means. It also seems intent to address the issue of Syria’s Kurds following the sharp divisions between those supporting the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and those supportive of the Syrian regime.
In analyzing the relationship between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, this paper recognizes the inherent risks and suspicions entailed, but focuses on the prevalence of shared interests between the two countries. It also investigates the implications of this relationship on the Iraqi government, and measures the central government’s response to this development. Lastly, this study explores where Iran and the United States stand on the issue considering both have vested interests in the Turkish-Kurdistan cooperation.
*This Article was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version published on January 6th, 2014 can be found here.
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 “Conducting talks with Erdogan regarding Kurds in Iraq and Syria: An official honorific reception of al-Barzani in Diyarbakir,” al-Jazeera Net, November 16, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.net/news/pages/4aeb3ede-2cfd-45bb-b8b1-5b7a941eca68.