What did Davoutoglue say?
Although Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davoutoglu’s visit to Kirkuk lasted only few hours, it carried various messages.
His visit without informing Baghdad explains the tense relationship between Baghdad and Ankara. This is a message that says Turkey is not a regular player in Iraq, but a player that can set the rules of the game without considering Baghdad.
A Turkish political observer told the Hurriyet Newspaper, “Ankara knew Baghdad’s reaction to the unilateral visit of Davoutoglu to Kirkuk would be tough, that’s why (Turkey) is silent amidst the fiery statements and responses from the Iraqi government.”
The Turkish FM’s message in his visit to Erbil was that Turkey no longer has any problem with the Kurdish authority. They are even ready to recognize it as the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Not only that, but they are much closer to Erbil than Baghdad. In the past, one of the compliments of Baghdad was Ankara’s conventional attitude toward Iraq’s integrity and Kirkuk’s Iraqi identity. But this compliment turns into a nightmare as Turkey may have changed.
Turkey’s relationship with Baghdad does not start with Davoutoglu’s visit. It’s an old cultural and historical relationship dating back to the times of Ottoman Empire. An abundance of songs sung for the love of Kirkuk is the sign of Kirkuk’s link to Turkey. Kirkuk is one of lost areas of Turkey, where the new state lost it in the political gambles. That’s why Turkey has always had a nostalgic feeling for Kirkuk.
Dvoutoglu’s visit to Kirkuk was the first by a Turkish FM for 75 years. Davoutoglu wrote in his twitter account, “Now I feel proud to visit Kirkuk as the first FM of Turkey’s republic after 75 years.”
An important part of Davoutoglu’s visit was meeting Turkmen Front. The Turkish FM publicly said Kirkuk cannot live without the Turkmens, as Turkey is in services of the Turkmens in whatever they want.
Hijran Qazanj, one of the Turkmen Front leaders describes the importance of his visit as, “This visit raised the morale of the Turkmens as we knew we are no less than Kurds and Arabs.”
Another aspect of his visit, which could be the major one, is his coming earlier than the leader of Milliyet Halk Partisi (People’s National Party) Devlet Bahceli, who plans to visit Kirkuk on the Ramadhan feast (August 20). Although the MHP leader’s visit might have a more extensive ethnic meaning for the Turkmens, Davoutoglu could set the balance between Turkey’s authority and opposition on Kirkuk.