Erdogan Visits Iraq: Water, Oil, and Security Talks

Erdogan Visits Iraq: Water, Oil, and Security Talks
Erdogan Visits Iraq: Water, Oil, and Security Talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in neighboring Iraq for his first state visit there in years, with water, oil and regional security issues expected to top the agenda.

Erdogan was greeted with a 21-gun salute at Baghdad's international airport by Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, state television showed, with the Iraqi and Turkish national anthems played by a marching band.

"Iraq and Turkey share a history and have similarities, interests and opportunities, but also problems," Sudani said during an event at the Atlantic Council on the sidelines of a recent visit to Washington.

"Water and security will be at the top of the agenda," he said of the upcoming meeting with Erdogan, who last visited Iraq in 2011.

The trip comes as regional tensions spiral, fuelled by the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip and attacks between Israel and Iran.

The sharing of water resources is a major point of contention, with Baghdad highly critical of upstream dams set up by Turkey on their shared Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which have worsened water scarcity in Iraq.

Erdogan said the issue of water would be "one of the most important points" of his visit following "requests" made by the Iraqi side.

"We will make an effort to resolve them, that is also their wish," he said.

Also on the agenda is a $17 billion road and rail project known as the "Route of Development" which is expected to consolidate economic ties between the two neighbors.

Stretching 1,200 kilometers across Iraq, it aims to connect by 2030 the northern border with Turkey to the Persian Gulf in the south.

In the first quarter of 2024, Iraq was Turkey's fifth-largest importer of products, buying food, chemicals, metals and other products.