Barzani and Turkmen Leaders Meet For First Time in Nearly Two Decades Turkey Did Not Convince

228202Image1Kurdish President Massoud Barzani meets with Turkmen leader Arshad Salehi in Erbil.

The leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) met in Erbil on Monday for the first time in 16 years.

Relations between the two parties seriously deteriorated in 2000, which led to ITF offices moving outside the Kurdish capital.

The ITF is largely seen as a key political force in Kirkuk with considerable impact on any referendum outcome in the partly Turkmen populated province.

“The meeting was at our request and after 16 years of cold relations we thought it was called for,” said Aydin Maarouf, a leading member of the ITF who participated in the meeting with the Kurdish president.

The ITF, an umbrella for 6 different Turkmen groups, was formed in Erbil in 1995 and supported by the KDP.

Some groups within the ITF have supported a reunion of Kirkuk with the Kurdistan Region, however the official position of the front is against an integration and instead supports the formation of a semi-independent region in Kirkuk.

“We talked about Mosul after ISIS and the role the Turkmen can play in liberating their areas like Tal Afar, which is a Turkmen city,” Maarouf told Rudaw.

Maarouf said that Turkey did not convince the two parties to meet.

“Both the KDP and the Turkmen are close to Turkey, but Ankara has not had any role, we wanted the meeting to take place,” Maarouf said.