First since 2011

Turkey’s President Erdogan arrives in Baghdad for official state visit

BAGHDAD — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a high-profile, one-day visit to Iraq on Monday, and was met by Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa’ Al-Sudani at Baghdad International Airport with full state honors.

Upon his arrival, President Erdogan was greeted with the Iraqi and Turkish national anthems and a ceremonial 21-gun salute. An honor guard from various branches of the Iraqi armed forces also participated in the welcome ceremony.

The agenda for Erdogan’s visit includes intensive bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Al-Sudani, covering critical topics such as water resources management, economic cooperation, and security concerns. The talks will also address the $17 billion, 1,200-kilometer Development Road Project and other regional issues, highlighting the strategic importance of Iraq-Turkey relations.

The visit is also expected to culminate in the signing of a bilateral strategic framework agreement aimed at expanding economic and trade partnerships, exchanging expertise, and addressing shared environmental and regional challenges.

Water resources are a major point of contention between Ankara and Baghdad in light of dams constructed upstream on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which have contributed to the extreme water scarcity issues in Iraq.

Erdogan said the issue of water would be “one of the most important points” of his visit following “requests” made by the Iraqi side.

Oil exports are another point of tension, with a major pipeline shut down for over a year over legal disputes and technical issues.

The exports were previously independently sold by the autonomous Kurdistan Region, without the approval or oversight of the federal government in Baghdad, through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

The halted oil sales represent more than $14 billion in lost revenues for Iraq, according to an estimate by the Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan which represents international oil companies active in the region.

Majid al-Lajmawi, Iraq’s ambassador to Turkey, hopes for “progress on the water and energy issues, and in the process of resuming Iraqi oil exports via Turkey,” according to a statement published by the Iraqi foreign ministry.

Security was also slated to feature prominently in talks with Erdogan announcing another round of operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside Iraq this summer.

Turkish operations against the group inside Iraq’s borders have been a source of contention between Ankara and Baghdad, however, Iraq’s National Security Council did recognize the PKK as a “banned organization,” according to a March 14 statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a meeting between Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.

Erdogan’s trip on Monday continued with meetings in Erbil after a visit with Iraqi President Dr. Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid at Baghdad Palace.

This is the Turkish leader’s first visit to Iraq since 2011, which comes amid escalating tensions including the ongoing war on Gaza, repeated attacks by armed groups on U.S. military positions in the region, and retributionary attacks between Iran and Israel.

AFP contributed to this report

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Iraq and Turkey expected to sign key trade agreements during Erdogan's visit

Iraq and Turkey expected to sign key trade agreements during Erdogan's visit