Turkey and Iraq have reached agreement on a new security partnership and have signed an agreement to fight terrorism on both sides of their shared border. The development strengthens the credibility of Nouri al-Maliki’s government, especially since the Turks had to dispense with a major demand:
Iraq and Turkey have signed a security agreement aimed at curbing the activities of the Turkish Kurdish separatist group, the PKK.
However, the final agreement does not include a key Turkish proposal that its troops be allowed to pursue PKK fighters over the border into Iraq.
The proposal had been strongly opposed by the Kurdish officials in Iraq.
Turkey says they will continue to press the issue of hot pursuit for PKK terrorists. They will have much less leverage now, however, after the completion of these negotiations. Maliki needed the prestige that came with a partnership with Turkey, and he needed to make sure the Kurds did not see Turkish troops crossing the border. He’s unlikely to back down now that he has the security agreement in hand.
Maliki scored a major victory in this agreement. Not only did he manage to work an agreement on a highly contentious international issue, he also delivered a victory for the Kurds that they will not soon forget. The treaty will sharply increase Maliki’s international prestige, as it should, and it will solidify ties to the Kurds that Maliki began nurturing during the US surge.
Turkey doesn’t exactly lose in this arrangement, either. While they didn’t get their hot-pursuit demand, Ankara had to know that would have been a long shot, anyway. The US does not want to see Turkish troops cross the border, either, or watch a war break out between its two Muslim democratic allies in the region. Washington would have made that clear during these negotiations, and that leverage undoubtedly played a role in the final shape of the document. In return, Turkey can rely on American friendship and pressure on Maliki and the Kurds to curtail PKK activity.
Who loses? Moqtada al-Sadr and the few remaining Sunnis boycotting the Maliki government. Maliki has shown that he can operate without them, thus marginalizing them. Most of the Sunnis have already started coming back to the government, and the success with Turkey will convince them that they can’t budge Maliki from office now. Maliki will also have more political capital to push for the reforms that the US wants to see on reversing de-Baathification, oil revenues, and local elections.
It’s just another piece of good news from the political realignment taking shape in Iraq, thanks to the surge. Pretty soon, that will be so obvious even Congress will see it.