Kurdistan Regional Government
TUE, 21 NOV 2017 16:51 Erbil, GMT +3

The Kurd’s Istanbul landing

THU, 5 NOV 2009 21:20 | Hurriyet

Mehmet Ali Birand
By Mehmet Ali Birand

I wish the entire country could have listened to the speech at a limited conference in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday.

Organized by the Atlantic Council and the American University, the conference was attended by mainly the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq and a few Turks. The subject was how relations between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds would develop in the future.

The most interesting part of the meeting realized by David L. Phillips was what upper level authorities from northern Iraq told us. Listening to them I better understood how we misread each other for many years. And what’s more important is I understood that Turkey and northern Iraqi Kurds finally found their true identities.

Northern Iraqi Kurds very clearly stated that Turkey is the only country they can trust in the region and lean against in case of any disaster.

Don’t be surprised.

We’ve heard samples of this as we reached out to them and they will reach out for us with an even warmer response. Just as Turkey is a trustworthy county for northern Iraq, we found out that northern Iraq is an important security region for Turkey.

If we examine our recent history we’ll notice that Turkey has always watched out for northern Iraqi Kurds. Take a look at the list below and decide for yourself:

- In the 60s and 70s when Baghdad intended to attack northern Kurds it asked Ankara to close the border so the Kurds couldn’t flee. I know from my own experience that Demirel, the then prime minister, and Çağlayangil, the then minister for foreign affairs, rejected one of their requests.

- After the first Gulf War, Turkey opened its border for thousands of Kurds who fled from Saddam’s army and protested loudly the gassing of Kurds to later bring it to the United Nations’ attention.

- If northern Iraq Kurdistan is on its feet and lives in prosperity it is because of contributions of the Operation Provide Comfort on Turkish grounds.

- Turkey tried to find a compromise between Barzani and Talabani instead of antagonizing the two against each other in the 90s despite pressure from Iran.

- And it was again Turkey that rejected the March 1 memorandum, even if due to technical reasons.

There is only one factor that would endanger the relations between Turkey and northern Iraq, which is back on track after a long time and that is the PKK. This factor needs to be eliminated so that relations can develop. Everybody in the room knew this fact.

What was left was to cope with this difficulty.

It was out of experience

Monday night there was an extremely impressive show on CNN Turk.

A show called Tecrübe Konuşuyor (Out of Experience) hosted by Hasan Cemal and Cengiz Çandar had two guests who are much spoken about. Yasemin Çongar and Ahmet Altan had never appeared on TV before. This chat between the two producers and their two guests who made their mark on Turkish media with extremely striking headlines in the daily Taraf earned criticism from some parts of society and applause from others.

Some felt mighty uncomfortable about this chat. And some on the contrary were very content while watching. What’s important here is that people learned to listen to different opinions without being upset or setting the judiciary into motion or more importantly without threatening anyone.

CNN Turk with its show on Monday night contributed to this country’s democracy. We are not forced to accept all views but should be able to listen to different opinions in a civilized way.

Look who was present

- Ayad Hassan Abdulhalem, president of the Dohuk Chamber of Commerce

- Abubakir Ali, president of the regional administration, member of the executive committee for the Kurdistan Islamic Unity Party

- Fallah Mustafa Bakir, minister for foreign affairs

- Hassan Baqi, president of the Sulaimaniyah Chamber of Commerce

- Safin Dizayee, minister of education

- Ashti Hawrami, minister of natural resources

- Dr. Fuad Hussein, Barzani’s spokesman

- Kamran Karadaghi, Iraqi president and Jalal Talabani’s former spokesman

- Dr. Asmat M. Khalid, president of the University of Dohuk

- Dara Jalil Khayat, president of the Arbil Chamber of Commerce

- Ali Saed Mohammed, president of the University of Sulaimaniyah

- Mohammad Sadiq, president of the University of Selahattin)

- Khaled Salih, councilor of Neçirvan Barzani, at the moment key advisor to the minister for energy of the regional administration

- Karim Sinjari, minister for interior

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