Turkey’s Optimistic Plans in Iraq seem to be Faltering

The question to ask now is, was it the United States or Iran that stopped the Iraqi advance? Is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stalling to see the outcome of negotiations with the KRG?

Turkey’s fervently pro-government daily Yeni Safak asked Jan. 8, "Who is blocking the Ovakoy crossing project?"

“The Ovakoy border crossing, planned for a new trade route to Baghdad, has always been subject to barriers because it would intervene with the corridor plans of terrorists," the report said, referring to the PKK and some possible IS cells. "Today this project faces the risk of being shelved again.”

The newspaper wrote that Turkey initially had planned to open the Ovakoy crossing during the reign of Saddam Hussein, but coalition planes taking off from Incirlik Air Base had fired on children playing soccer on the proposed route, thus killing the project. This was the newspaper’s way of insinuating US involvement.

A diplomatic source told Al-Monitor, “The plan to open the Ovakoy crossing is proceeding slowly because the land on the Iraqi side of the crossing is not yet under full control of the Iraqi government. It would be unfair to blame Iraq for lack of political will for the project. We will see how sincere they are only after they assume control of the land on their side. They are now asking for bids for a new pipeline on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan course. Real progress on this project will depend on Turkey’s serious approach and interest.”

The diplomatic source said allegations of US and Iranian interventions are “speculations that have to be kept in mind.’’

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