Turkey’s “Brash Behaviour” Riles Iraq

By Fehim Taştekin for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Turkey has been officially uninvited — in no uncertain terms — to the liberation of Mosul, Iraq.

When rumors began piling up recently that Turkey — after launching Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria — also has plans to intervene on the Iraqi front with Operation Tigris Shield, diplomatic channels between Ankara and Baghdad caught fire.

Baghdad was already unhappy with Turkey, believing Ankara is more interested in the post-Islamic State (IS) future of Mosul rather than helping to liberate it. Baghdad was also concerned about Turkey training Sunni-dominated Al-Hashd al-Watani forces at Bashiqa training camp 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Mosul.

So when Turkey’s parliament decided Oct. 1 to extend for a year its military operations in Iraq and Syria, the Iraqi parliament responded with a blunt, unfriendly warning.

The warning called for summoning the Turkish ambassador, branding Turkish forces in Iraq as occupiers, prosecuting those responsible and denouncing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pronouncements. It also called for reviewing trade and economic relations with Turkey and initiating immediate action with the United Nations to expel Turkish troops.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry responded in similarly harsh language: “We denounce the decision of the Iraqi parliament. We strongly condemn the ugly accusations directed to our president.”

Tension between Ankara and Baghdad escalated after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned that the presence of Turkish soldiers in Iraq could lead to a regional war.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus contributed to the squabble. “Where was the Iraqi government when [IS] occupied Mosul in one day?” he asked, referring to the takeover in June 2014.

Many people wondered what had prompted the Iraqi parliament’s bad-tempered action.

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