- Special Pages
BAGHDAD: Iraq yesterday barred Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz’s plane from landing in Arbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, in the latest sign of worsening ties between the once-close neighbours.
The incident highlighted chilly ties between Baghdad and Ankara, in part due to issues related to Iraqi Kurdistan, and rows between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurds over energy contracts and disputed territory.
“This flight did not obtain the necessary legal approvals, and it was therefore decided to prevent it from landing at Arbil airport,” Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq’s civil aviation authority, said.
Though Kurdistan is autonomous, Bandar said the federal government retains control over all Iraqi airspace.
An official from the Kurdistan regional government confirmed on condition of anonymity that Yildiz’s plane was not permitted to land, adding the minister was on his way to Arbil for the completion of an oil and gas development deal.
Kurdistan government spokesman Safin Dizai said Baghdad attributed the move to a technical problem, and that the region hoped there was no other reason for barring the minister’s entry to Kurdistan.
Yildiz was headed for Kurdistan to attend an oil and gas conference, where he was to give a speech, he said.