Border Crossings deepen Baghdad-Erbil conflict

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

In a Nov. 14 press conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities that he will not wait long to take control of the Kurdistan region’s border crossings with Turkey and Iran. “We will regain control of border areas without escalation. But our patience will run out. We will not wait forever. We will take action,” Abadi said.

Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkci ssid previously that his country has reached an agreement with Iraq’s central government to open a border crossing through Ovakoy in Sirnak province, southeast Turkey. Being out of the reach of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, the crossing in Ovakoy is a strong economic and political blow to Kurdistan Region authorities.

The border dispute is a result of the desire of Baghdad, Turkey and Iran to keep Kurdish influence at bay. Kurdish authorities have been delaying the handover of the borders, and the Iraqi forces have threatened to start operations to gain control over the crossings.

Meanwhile, the United States and its Iranian opponent are both interested in the Faysh Khabur strategic crossing. The United States is trying to avoid a conflict and it is working on setting a “common security strategy” for all areas of conflict, including the crossing. This explains why the United States has suggested the presence of representatives from its US-led coalition at the crossing.

The Popular Mobilization Units have expressed interest in reclaiming the crossing, which would connect them with their allies in Syria. Moreover, the location links the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey and acts as an important and lucrative economic passage between Iraq and its neighbors.

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