Erdogan arrives in Iraq with water, oil and security on agenda

It is the Turkish president's first state visit to Iraq in more than a decade 
Recep Tayyip Erdogan - PHOTO/FILE
Recep Tayyip Erdogan - PHOTO/FILE

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Baghdad on Monday on his first state visit to Iraq in more than a decade in which water, oil and thorny security issues are expected to dominate the agenda. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani met Erdogan on his arrival at Baghdad airport, after which the Turkish leader is scheduled to meet President Abdel Latif Rachid before flying to Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan. 

The visit comes at a time of high tension in the Middle East over the war in Gaza and fears of escalation between Israel and Iran. 

Water is a hot topic, as dams built by Turkey on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have aggravated water shortages in Iraq. 

Another sensitive bilateral issue is the oil that Iraqi Kurdistan used to export, without Baghdad's approval, through the Turkish port of Ceyhan. 

These sales have now been suspended for a year due to a dispute between the regional authorities and the central government and technical problems. 

Finally, there is the thorny issue of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

For decades, Turkey has operated military bases in northern Iraq to fight this rebel group, which Ankara and its allies in the West consider a 'terrorist organisation'. 

The central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish authorities have been accused of tolerating Turkey's military activities in order to protect economic ties with Ankara.