Presidenten for det kurdiske Nord-Irak, Massoud Barzani, har provosert Tyrkia voldsomt med uttalelser om at Tyrkia bør holde seg unna indre kurdiske anliggender, hvis ikke vil kurderne blande seg inn i forholdene for kurderne i Tyrkia.
Til høsten skal det holdes folkeavstemning om den viktige byen Kirkuk, og Tyrkia frykter at kurderne vil gå av med seieren. Kirkuk rår over store oljeinntekter. Det kan gjøre kurderne i stand til å danne en uavhengig stat med tiden. En uavhengig kurdisk stat er hva Tyrkia frykter mest. Det kan inspirere landets egne kurdere, som har vært undertrykket i lang tid.
Et annet forhold som har irritert Ankara er at kurdiske separatister benytter Nord-Irak som base for angrep inn i Tyrkia. Tyrkia har gjentatte ganger tatt det opp med USA.
I et intervju med Al Arabiya lørdag truet Barzani Tyrkia og sa at kurderne kunne lage uro i Tyrkia, hvis tyrkerne prøvde seg på noe i Nord-Irak. Det var svært lite diplomatisk sagt og tyder på manglende bakkekontakt. Også amerikanerne blir irritert av slike utspill.
The prime minister on Monday warned Iraqi Kurds against interfering in southeastern Turkey, where the Kurdish majority is fighting Turkish security forces, saying «the price for them will be very high.»
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was responding to Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish autonomous region in
Iraq, who said Iraqi Kurds would retaliate for any Turkish interference in northern Iraq by stirring up trouble in southeastern Turkey.
«He’s out of place,» Erdogan said of Barzani. «He’ll be crushed under his words.»
The verbal sparring was set off by Barzani on Saturday when he said in an interview with al-Arabiyah television that Iraqi Kurds could «interfere» in Kurdish-majority Turkish cities if Ankara interfered in northern Iraq.
The remark touched a nerve in Turkey, where more than 37,000 people have been killed in fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels since 1984, most of them in the southeastern region bordering Iraq. Turkey fears that any moves toward greater independence for Kurds in northern Iraq could incite Turkey’s own estimated 14 million Kurds to outright rebellion.
Turkey is especially concerned about Barzani’s bid to incorporate the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk into his semiautonomous region, fearing that Iraqi Kurds will use revenues from the city’s oil wealth to fund a bid for independence.
«Northern Iraq, which is a neighbor, is making a serious mistake: The price for them will be very high,» Erdogan warned.
The Foreign Ministry also sent a note to the Iraqi government «reminding them of their responsibilities on the subject of the fight against terror,» government spokesman Cemil Cicek said.
in the interview with Al-Arabiya on Saturday, Barzani said: «Turkey is not allowed to intervene in the Kirkuk issue and if it does, we will interfere in Diyarbakir’s issues and other cities in Turkey.» Diyarbakir is the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.
When asked about the Turkmen minority in Kirkuk and Turkey’s concern for its ethnic brethren, Barzani shot back:
«There are 30 million Kurds in Turkey and we don’t interfere there. If they (the Turks) interfere in Kirkuk over just thousands of Turkmen, then we will take action for the 30 million Kurds in Turkey.»
«I hope we don’t reach this point, but if the Turks insist on intervening in the Kirkuk matter I am ready to take responsibility for our response,» Barzani said.