State-run Anadolu Agency reported that Iraqi military forces were deployed at the Ibrahim Al-Khalil crossing in Iraqi territories, alongside Turkish forces, after making a joint drill in Turkey’s southeastern town of Silopi.
Iraqi Chief of General Staff Osman Ganimi thanked Turkish military officers and said: “We will be stronger as long as we stand together,” according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey has a trade volume of $8 billion with Iraq that passes through the Habur border gate, currently the main passage between the two countries.
Speaking to the ruling AK Party politicians at the parliament, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that Habur border gate had been handed over to the Iraqi central government by the KRG without any problem.
Yildirim also said that from now on the border crossing will be under the control of officials from Turkey and the Iraqi central government, while the transportation will be still carried out on the current route, but he added that Ankara would prevent KRG officials from taking racketeering from the trucks and imposing illegitimate taxes across the border.
After completing the necessary security reinforcements and feasibility studies, Turkey and Iraq are expected to open a second border gate in the near future, as an alternative border crossing that will pass through the Iraqi town of Tal Afar.
Mete Sohtaoglu, an Istanbul-based researcher on the Middle East, said the handover on Tuesday was initially aimed at gaining control of the border region.
“But, at the later phase, the Turkish army may be deployed across the border or on the Iraqi part of the border,” he told Arab News.
Sohtaoglu also expects a new joint operation between Tehran, Baghdad and Ankara in the region.
“A joint operation against those under the umbrella of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its military wing the People’s Defense Forces is looming on the horizon, particularly in Sinjar in northern Iraq. The unfolding military mobility in the region can be read as the gradual implementation of a bigger plan toward the region,” he added.
“The Iraqi national army is also deployed in a way to ensure the security of the second border gate between Turkey and Iraq. But what is interesting is that Iranian militia under the Iraqi national army are kept out of Turkish borders,” Sohtaoglu underlined.