Baghdad government says PKK not welcome in Iraq

9 May 2013 /REUTERS, BAGHDAD – Zaman – Iraq’s central government said on Thursday it would not accept armed groups entering its territory as Kurdish militants began withdrawing from Turkey under a settlement deal, but Baghdad has no control over its northern border which is run by Iraqi Kurds. 

As well as controlling Iraq’s border with Turkey, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is fiercely defensive of its internal boundary with the rest of the country run by Baghdad. The central government’s ability to intervene directly in the northern enclave is therefore extremely limited, but Baghdad’s statement is the first indication of its stance on the process that has raised hopes of peace. “The Iraqi government … does not accept the entry of armed groups into its territory that could be used to impact the security and stability of Iraq or neighbouring states,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website.Baghdad nonetheless said it welcomed a non-violent political settlement to the 28-year conflict. Relations between largely Sunni Muslim Turkey and Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government have been strained by Ankara’s burgeoning ties with Kurdistan, which is rich in oil and gas.