The Turkish prime minister has raised the prospect of joint efforts with Iran to curb Kurdish militants based in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains, while conceding that Tehran’s support for the Syrian regime has irked Ankara.
Speaking to journalists accompanying him on a flight from Libya to Tunisia, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed satisfaction with Turkish-Iranian cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, daily Hürriyet reported Friday. “We may undertake a joint effort over Kandil,” Erdoğan said.
The Iraqi mountains along the Iranian border are where the PKK has some of its main bases. Militants with the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, a banned group with alleged links to the PKK, also use Kandil as a springboard for attacks on Iranian territory.
The Iranian ambassador to Turkey said Friday that a joint military operation in Kandil was “not on the agenda at the moment,” but stressed that the two neighbors had “a good dialogue” and cooperation in efforts to combat the militants.
“We believe that Turkey’s security is our security. We must eradicate both the PKK and the PJAK,” Ambassador Bahman Hosseinpour told reporters during a visit to Parliament. Erdoğan said he was likely to meet with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, and pay a visit to Iran afterward.
Turkish sources have said that Ankara is seeking intelligence-sharing with Tehran after a recent Iranian offensive against the militants. Speculation has been rife in recent days that Turkey is planning a military incursion into northern Iraq to crack down on PKK bases.
The prime minister denied that tensions with Tehran over its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but made it clear that Ankara was displeased. “I wouldn’t say there are tensions with Iran. But we have warned them that their stance is encouraging and spoiling the Assad administration,” Erdoğan said.