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 Iraq warns Turkey against violating airspace of Kurdistan

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Iraq warns Turkey against violating airspace of Kurdistan  17.7.2012  

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al- Dabbagh. Photo: Ali Abbas/EPA/Getty Images.   See Related Links
Turkey warened by Iraq against violating airspace of Kurdistan

July 17
, 2012

BAGHDAD, — Iraq warned Turkey against violating its airspace and territory and said on Tuesday it planned to protest to the U.N. Security Council after its radars had repeatedly detected Turkish warplanes, in a deepening a rift with its neighbour.

Over the past four weeks, Turkish warplanes and attack helicopters have carried out repeated strikes on suspected Kurdish PKK militant targets in Kurdistan region in Iraq's north, according to Turkish military command, after clashes on the Iraqi side of the border.

The Turkish military says it is targeting hideouts of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants after some of the most intense battles this year of the separatist conflict.

"The Iraqi government condemns these violations to Iraq's airspace and sovereignty and warns Turkey against any violations of Iraq's airspace and territory," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in statement after a cabinet meeting.

Dabbagh said the cabinet asked the Foreign Ministry to protest to the Security Council over the violations.

"Iraq will retain its right in taking all the measures to prevent these oversteps against its sovereignty," Dabbagh said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Ankara has increasingly courted Iraqi Kurds as its relations with the Shi'ite-led central government in Baghdad have soured. Turkey is a major investment and trading partner for Iraq, especially for Kurdistan.

Turkish officials have been waging a war of words with Baghdad since December Iraqi Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, based on allegations that he ran death squads.

The two countries have also clashed over energy policy. The airspace warning comes two days after Baghdad condemned Turkey for receiving Kurdish oil exports by truck, saying it would damage ties with the central Iraqi government.

Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which borders Turkey, is locked in a dispute with the central Iraqi government over oil exports and energy policy has become a very sensitive topic.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

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