Talabani in Ankara

Call me a cynic, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s historic visit to Ankara accompanied by the Iraqi Ministers of Finance, Oil and Industry seems like a tip-off as to why the Turkish incursion into the Qandil Mountains didn’t set off a regional conflagration. The fact that the Iraqi Minister of National Security (talk bout a dead-letter office) went along for the ride does nothing to reduce the suggestion of a modus operandus being put into place.

What’s often ignored in the alarmist coverage of the Turkey-PKK conflict is that the Turks and Iraqi Kurds have enormous mutual economic interests, and Ankara seems to be willing to continue to develop them so long as the bi-lateral relations pass through Baghdad and not Irbil. What’s more, the PKK guerillas might be a thorn in Ankara’s side, but fact is, they are a thorn in everybody’s side. (The Turkish FOB’s in northern Iraq, for instance, date from the last major land incursion during the 90’s which saw the major Kurdish Peshmerga militias assisting the Turkish army in its offensive against the PKK.)

They remain a very useful thorn, especially for Massoud Barzani. But it’s hard to imagine they’ll be allowed to get in the way of what’s otherwise a very lucrative relationship.