ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq and Turkey have agreed to open a new border gate between their two nations, a Turkish minister confirmed, stating that they are just waiting for Baghdad to “regain control” in order to secure the roads.

“We have reached a consensus with the central Iraqi government to open a second border gate,” Customs Minister Bulent Tufenkci told state-run Anadolu Agency in an interview.

“We are waiting for Iraq to take steps in order to regain control of the border gates,” he added.

The gate cannot be opened currently because of “problems” between Baghdad and Erbil, Tufenkci said. “We have seen that the central government is disposed to do it, but we need to maintain road security.”

Citing concern of security threats from ISIS, the PKK, or the Syrian Kurdish PYD, Tufenkci said “either Iraq or Turkey may have to provide security.” 

The proposed gate would be opened at Ovakoy, close to the current Fishabur border crossing between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region. The area is where the Turkey, Iraq-Kurdistan Region, Syria borders meet.

Ankara is working with Baghdad to transfer control of the Fishabur crossing to the central government, Tufenkci said.

Iraqi federal forces and Iranian-backed paramilitaries launched an attack on Kurdish forces near Fishabur on Thursday morning. The Peshmerga reported that they repelled the attack. Fishabur is located within the borders of the Kurdistan Region and is not in disputed territory.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed the border crossings with the Turkish president and prime minister during his visit to Ankara on Wednesday. Both Turkish leaders pledged support to help Baghdad bring the borders under federal authority.

Baghdad also wants to bring back online its damaged oil pipeline to export Iraqi oil to Turkey’s Ceyhan port.

Trade between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region is worth billions of dollars and is important to the economies of both nations. In the first six months of this year, trade reached $5 billion.

Prior to the September 25 independence referendum, Turkish leaders had said the vote would have no bearing on the border trade.

Thursday’s clashes near Fishabur are part of Baghdad’s efforts to exert federal control over the Kurdistan Region after the people of the autonomous region and disputed areas voted to split from Iraq.




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