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Iraq Blocks Turkish Energy Minister’s Visit, Forces Plane to Turn Around

Posted By Jason Ditz On December 4, 2012 @ 7:13 pm In News | Comments Disabled

The Iraqi government has blocked a Turkish government plane from entering Iraqi airspace today, despite the plane having already been giving all flight permits and its passenger, the Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, having planned the visit well in advance.

The plane was already en route to Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), for a meeting with KRG officials, when Iraqi officials ordered them to turn the plane around in mid-air and return to Turkey.

Iraqi government officials are downplaying the incident, saying Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an edict just hours earlier that all planes headed to Irbil are required to land in Baghdad first to be searched. Normally a plane with a foreign government’s minister would be exempt from this sort of rule.

Yet it reflects both the growing tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi central government as well as Iraq and the Turkish government. An energy ministry visit might’ve been particularly annoying since Turkey has been buying oil directly from the KRG over Maliki’s objections.

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