Iraq claims Turkey has banned Iraqi flights from landing
Turkey denies making such a decision
The dispute is over money owed by an Iraqi oil company to Turkey
Iraq has banned all Turkish flights from landing in the country in response to a dispute over millions of dollars owed by an Iraqi government oil company to Turkey.
Iraqi transportation ministry spokesman Karim al-Nuri said the decision to block Turkish planes from Iraq, including the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, was in response to a similar ban in Turkey against Iraqi flights. However, a Turkish government official denied that Ankara blocked Iraqi planes.
The official did say that Turkey warned that if Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) does not pay the $3 million owed to his country, then the country would ban Iraqi aircraft.
“They owe the money and they wish to freeze Turkish flights … Talks are ongoing. But the way out is for SOMO to pay its debts,” the Turkish official said.
Al-Nuri said Baghdad did not make “a political decision.”
“Iraq will reverse its decision if Turkey reverses its decision, too,” al-Nuri said.
After years of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines was one of the first international companies to begin direct flights to Baghdad. Increasingly, Turkey has grown as a major international gateway for commerce and travel to and from its Iraqi neighbor.