A Kurdistan Regional Government spokesman expressed hope Wednesday that only a temporary "technical issue" led the Iraqi government to deny permission for Turkey's energy minister to fly to the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz's plane was forced to turn around in mid-flight Tuesday. He was in a private plane flying to Irbil, the Kurdistan region's capital, to attend a three-day conference on oil and gas.
"We had applied for flight permits. We were issued one, and the plane was on the move," said a Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to government protocol. "But in the meantime we were notified by the Iraqis that they have banned all VIP flights to Northern Iraq." ...
... Iraqi Kurds have witnessed a remarkable reversal over the past decade, as Turkey has gone from being a major adversary to being one of the Kurdistan Regional Government's largest trading partners.
"To ensure access to Kurdish oil and gas, Turkey has eased its trade, economic, diplomatic relations with the KRG. Even in some cases, it has acted as the protector of the Kurds in Northern Iraq," wrote Yerevan Saeed, an Iraqi Kurdish energy security analyst at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
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