On Friday last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that his nation planned to reopen their consulates located in two of Iraq’s largest cities. The Mosul and Basra consulates have had their doors shut for quite some time now (approximately four years) but the move by Turkey may be in an effort to strengthen trade relations with its neighbor as Iran prepares for economic collapse. President Erdogan claims that the consulates will be ready and operational within the next three months. The re-opening of the consulates by Turkey is a big step forward on the road to recovery in the wake of the Islamic State’s atrocities.
As Turkey prepares to re-open its consulates, it is also holding discussions with the Iraqi government over possibly opening the Sulaymaniyah airport. The airports in Iraqi-Kurdistan were closed during the autonomous region’s independence referendum. President Erdogan intends to complete one thousand projects during his initial hundred days as president. The majority of the projects will be within the economy, research, energy, infrastructure, and foreign policy fields. President Erdogan claimed he would appoint a Turkish deputy commander to take charge of the nation’s NATO operation in Iraq as well.
The consulate controlled by Turkey in the freshly reconstructed city of Mosul is a prime location for diplomatic relations given its somewhat contested status. The Mosul consulate was abandoned in June 2014 when the Islamic State overran the city. Consul general Ozturk Yilmaz and 45 consulate employees of various nationalities were captured during the raid but were later set free by the ISIS militants. The Islamic State incursion eventually moved into the central Iraqi provinces and when that happened Turkey evacuated its Basra consulate. The southern consulate’s staff was flown from Basra to Kuwait and eventually returned to Turkey. Turkey still has a consulate in the city of Erbil, as well as a location within the capital city of Baghdad.
Featured image: An aerial view of the Tigris River as it flows through Baghdad, July 31st, 2016. | DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro