Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds: From Red Lines to Red Carpets
Next month's expected visit of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, to Turkey is a first step ending hostility between Ankara and the Kurdish leadership and ending Turkey's long-time Kurdish problem.
One of the biggest propellers of change has been flourishing trade ties. Iraq is Turkey's fourth largest trading partner. Most of this trade is conducted with the Iraqi Kurds. The other major change in Turkey's relations with the Iraqi Kurds is that they are no longer viewed through the PKK lens, but from an Iraq-wide perspective. Friendship with the Iraqi Kurds allows Ankara to have a greater say in Baghdad. The Iraqi Kurdish and Turkish economies are already tightly intertwined. Once the Iraqi Kurds strike an agreement with Baghdad over the sharing of oil revenues, they can start selling their own oil and natural gas resources through Turkey. This virtuous cycle can help alleviate poverty among Turkish Kurds. Yet, Ankara must never cede to the age-old temptation of playing one set of Kurds against the other.