The Iraqi foreign ministry on Thursday sharply criticized a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the disputed city of Kirkuk, saying it had not been informed of or approved the trip.
“It is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate the national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials,” a statement on the foreign ministry’s website said.
‘All of that was done without the knowledge or approval of the foreign ministry and without going to the official and diplomatic channels to organize this visit,” it said.
Davutoglu made his trip to Kirkuk while on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, whose leaders have long called for the incorporation of the ethnically divided oil city in their autonomous region in the north, against strong opposition from Baghdad.
Turkey and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region have earlier warned that they will consider any violent group that abuses a Syrian power vacuum a “common threat,” in a reference to Kurdish rebels in Syria.
“The new Syria should be free of any terrorist and extremist group or organization,” Davutoglu and Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said in a rare joint statement released late Wednesday.
The statement comes after the pair held talks in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil over the situation in Syria and reports that some parts of the country had fallen to the Kurdish rebels.
“Any attempt to exploit the power vacuum by any violent group or organization will be considered as a common threat,” said Barzani and Davutoglu in their joint statement.
Turkish media reported that Davutoglu would bring together Syrian opposition groups.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian ally of the outlawed Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had allegedly seized control of several towns along Turkey’s border with Syria, alarming Ankara, which promptly increased defenses on the border.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week Ankara would not hesitate to strike Kurdish rebels in Syria.
Ankara claims some of the Kurdish rebels in Syria are those who have been forced to move from their hideouts in mountainous zones in northern Iraq, after Turkey staged several air strikes in the area to drive out the rebels.
A military drill close to the Syrian border and an increase in the firepower deployment on the border followed the movement in northern Syria.
Ankara had already fortified the border region after a Turkish plane was brought down by Syria on June 22.
The PKK took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.