Iraq plans to ask the UN Security Council to block Kurdish separatists from withdrawing to its soil from neighboring Turkey, a move that may inflame tensions between the two countries over energy resources and Syria.
Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, began crossing into self-governed Kurdish areas in northern Iraq on May 8 under an agreement with the Turkish government meant to end three decades of bloodshed.
With the pullout in motion, the Iraqi Cabinet voted today to ask the Security Council to adopt a “suitable resolution to prevent any violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” according to an e-mailed statement from the government.
The Cabinet also plans to notify Turkey that Iraq objects to the entry of PKK militants without permission from authorities in Baghdad, according to the statement.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged safe exit for about 2,000 militants operating in his country’s eastern and southern regions. The PKK, which has between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters inside Turkey and in the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, rejected his call to lay down their weapons during the withdrawal.
The dispute over the pullout coincides with mounting frictions between Iraq and the KRG over disputed land and oil revenue. The KRG halted crude oil exports through the central government-operated pipeline in December and plans to build a separate export pipeline to sell oil and gas to Turkey, without permission from the Baghdad government.
Frictions between Turkey and the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have also emerged over Syria. Iran, an ally of al-Maliki’s, is the main regional supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey, which is mostly Sunni Muslim, wants Assad removed from power because of his troops’ military campaign against Sunni-led rebels in Syria.