Turkey Hands over Habur Border Crossing To Baghdad, PM Says

Turkey Hands over Habur Border Crossing To Baghdad, PM Says

Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim announced on Wednesday (October 25) that he has come to an agreement with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi to hand over his country’s border crossing of Habur to Baghdad.

The move by the Turkish government comes a month after a referendum on Kurdistan independence which was held in defiance of Turkey and Baghdad.

The Habur Gate between Turkey and Kurdistan, also known as Ibrahim Khalil, is a major crossing point for tourists as well as trucks carrying goods across the border.

During a joint press conference with Iraq’s Abadi in Ankara, Yildirim said his country wants to develop economic and business relations with Iraq.

Abadi said he held talks with Yildirim seeking a stronger bilateral relationship and to boost cooperation in the fields of security, politics, business, oil, energy, economy and tourism.

Following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abadi hailed victory by Iraqi forces to “restore power in all Iraq.”

Erdogan reiterated his country opposition to the Kurdish referendum on independence, saying “We were very concerned about the vote by Kurdistan Region.”

Turkey, the United States and other Western powers had urged authorities in the Kurdistan Region to cancel the vote which saw over 92 percent vote “Yes.”

An international ban on air travel over the Kurdistan Region went into effect on September 29 in retaliation against a vote for independence.  Almost all foreign airlines suspended flights to Erbil and Sulaimani, obeying a notice from the government in Baghdad, which controls Iraqi air space. Domestic flights are still allowed, so travelers are expected to travel to Kurdistan mostly via Baghdad's airport, which will come under strain from the extra traffic.

Turkey, which has already threatened economic sanctions and a military response to any security challenges posed by the referendum result in neighboring northern Iraq, has maintained a drumbeat of opposition to the Kurdish vote.

The Iranian government also shut the country’s airspace towards the Kurdistan Region one day ahead of the Kurdish referendum at the request of the Iraqi government in response to the Kurdistan independence referendum.