Turkish Minister of Foreign affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has declared that the Turkish military is not looking for support from Iraq or Iran in their anti-PKK operations in Qandil, Iraqi-Kurdistan. Çavuşoğlu told press that, “Iraq and Iran currently do not have any role. Iran made one or two comments but the bottom line is that what is happening here basically severely threatens Iran’s national security and their border integrity.” He made it clear that Turkey would be proceeding with their “anti-terrorism” mission regardless of consent.
The Turkish military’s Operation Olive Branch started earlier this year when the Turkish military captured the city of Afrin in Syria from Kurdish YPG forces. Now it seems the operation has trickled into Iraqi Kurdistan in pursuit of the PKK. The current efforts are taking place in Qandil which is situated near the Iranian border. Cavusoglu claims that during earlier meetings with Tehran, the two governments had discussed the PKK in depth. Turkish Minister of Defense Nurettin Canikli told press that the Iranian government had shown support for the operation but this was immediately denied by Iran.
Iran’s military spokesman Gen. Abul Fazal Shekarchi stated that, “The Islamic Republic of Iran thinks military action against the territory of another country without permission from its legitimate government, with the excuse of combating terrorism, is illegal.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also denied any collaboration saying, “There has been no cooperation between Turkey and Iraq regarding Qandil operations.” Abadi went on to express frustration with both the PKK and Turkish military operating without reservation on Iraqi soil, he also admitted that the campaign was just propaganda for Turkey’s upcoming elections.
Çavuşoğlu implied that the Kurdistan Regional Government as well as the central Iraqi government supported the mission. He said, “It — whether ISIS or PKK — is a very big threat to Iraq. The Baghdad administration knows this very well. Erbil administration knows it as well. I do not mean the Sulaimani-based PUK and Gorran. They have already cooperated with the PKK and paid for it. They admit this.”