For about 10 years, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls Erbil and Dahuk provinces in Iraq, has enjoyed close working relations with the Turkish government on trade, energy and security. The main architect of this opening has been the KDP’s Nechirvan Barzani.
The KDP, unlike other Iraqi Kurdish groups, has also acted as a counterweight since the 1990s to the formidable Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla movement — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s archenemy — by allowing Turkey to establish a number of military bases to monitor PKK activities.
However, Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since 2012, was not nominated by the KDP to form the next KRG Cabinet. This is causing Erdogan to worry about the fate of a 50-year secretive energy deal made with Barzani in 2014.