MESOP Peshmerga Spokesman: Turkey Talks Were About Solution in Iraq


By RUDAW 27-7-2014 – Jabar Yawar: We did not have any security or military demands for Turkey.

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff and spokesman for the Kurdistan Region’s ministry of Peshmerga, was part of the top-level to Ankara that was headed by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Though the delegation was heavy with military officials, Yawar told Rudaw in an interview that military discussions were only part of the talks. “We did not have any security or military demands for Turkey,” he said.

While acknowledging that in every meeting of this kind there is some secrecy that that not everything is disclosed to the media, he said Turkey’s main worry was to try and find a solution to the turmoil in Iraq. Asked if Turkey also would like to see Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki go, Yawar said Ankara believes in change.  He also said Turkish officials did not raise the issue of Kurdish independence in any of the discussions. Here is an edited transcript of Rudaw’s interview with Yawar:

Rudaw: The latest visit to Ankara consisted of mainly military officials, including you and the minister of Peshmerga. But why didn’t we hear anything about the military side of the talks at this meeting.

Jabar Yawar: It is true that we were mainly military men, but the delegation which accompanied President Barzani each comes from a political background and military discussions were only part of the meeting. It was a political, military and security delegation. We met with the Turkish President Abdullah Gul, the prime minister and foreign minister as well as advisors from different ministries. As a neighbor and important country, Turkey has a long border with us and great diplomatic and economic relations with us and with Iraq. A big event has taken place in Iraq and of course Turkey would want to talk with us about how it would be possible to find a solution for this situation.

We did not have any security or military demands for Turkey. It was in fact an invitation from Turkey to President Barzani and members of the team were selected by the president.  All meetings at such high level would have some secrecy to them that wouldn’t be revealed to the media, but I can say that we talked about the situation in Iraq because we are living in the middle of it and we gave our opinion to the Turkish leaders. There was mutual consultation.


Rudaw: What was the Turkish view of what is happening in Iraq?


Jabar Yawar: They watch the developments very closely and they certainly see a big threat.

Rudaw: Did they have any conditions for the Peshmerga control of the new territories?

Jabar Yawar: No, this subject of where the Peshmerga have gone or what they control was not raised at all. The talks revolved around the situation in general. Our delegation and the Turkish side all agreed that the main cause of the situation in Iraq is political, and that the first step to a solution should be political. This would be key to solving the crisis.

 Rudaw: Did you talk about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s third term and that it might cause further problems?

Jabar Yawar: It is clear that the Kurdistan Region isn’t happy with Maliki seeking a third term and that there should be real change in the Iraqi government, the Iraqi system. Turkey pays great attention to the ruling system in Iraq and it wants change.

Rudaw: Is Turkey worried that instability in the Kurdistan Region would have an impact on its own stability?

Jabar Yawar: It is obvious that the stability and security of Kurdistan is significant to the whole Middle East. Due to terrorism the world security is interconnected. We all have a common enemy. The ISIS is only a brand of al-Qaeda, so it is not only an enemy to the Kurds. The ISIS says clearly in its map that it wants to create an Islamic State stretching from Spain to Saudi Arabia, including Turkey. Of course, every country gets worried. And we are allies of all countries that fight terrorism. Turkey is concerned, too, because it has borders with Iraq and with Syria. But what is interesting is that all of Turkey’s borders with federal Iraq is shared with the Kurdistan Region. Hence, Turkey’s special focus on Kurdistan.


Turkey also thanked the Kurdistan Region for the humane and brotherly treatment of all ethnic groups in Kirkuk and other areas. They thanked Kurdistan for receiving all the refugees, despite the budget shortfalls, which helped Turkey in a way by keeping many Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Turkey is very interested in the Kurdistan Region remaining secure and stable.

Rudaw: Did they say how they would like Kirkuk to be governed, especially given that there is a Turkmen population there?

Jabar Yawar: They were pleased that we were able to protect Kirkuk, its multi-ethnic population, the oil installations and the security of the city.

Rudaw: Were there talks about oil?

Jabar Yawar: No, there was no talk of oil at all. There were some false reports that the president was in Turkey to talk about oil and Kurdistan’s oil revenues, but this was false and there was no mention of oil or money whatsoever in Turkey. There was of course at the same time another Kurdish delegation of the deputy prime minister and minister of finance in Turkey who held talks with their Turkish counterparts. That was different.


Rudaw: Did you talk about the situation and capacity of the Peshmerga forces?

Jabar Yawar: Yes, we did. We said to them that the same way the Kurdistan Region has been under economic sanctions from the federal government, the Peshmergas have been under embargo in terms of budget, weapons, ammunition, training, etc. We talked about all this. We said that if, God forbid, this situation continues as it is now, the Peshmerga forces will need a source from which they could acquire their needs. This was not discussed in specific terms, rather in general terms. There was no talk at all about Turkish military bases in Kurdistan or military support or sending troops.

Rudaw: It is said that the Turks asked the Kurdish delegation not to talk of Kurdish independence.

Jabar Yawar: That is not true. In all the meetings that I attended with the Turkish president, Turkish prime minister, foreign minister, none of them even mentioned the issue of Kurdish independence. They only talked in general about the political process in Iraq. They asked President Barzani to play an encouraging role in having all Iraqi sides participate in the political process in Iraq. Both sides had a common view on many aspects of the situation in Iraq and the future of the Kurdistan Region.

 Rudaw: The governor of Nineveh has asked the Peshmerga forces to go and control some oilfields in Mosul. Do you have such an intention?

Jabar Yawar: No, we do not have any plans to go anywhere beyond the areas we control now. Our orders are to stay where we are and strengthen our lines of defense with trenches and bunkers. We defend the 1,050 kilometer border line we have. That is it.