In Multipolarity, Turkey / Türkiye

Sputnik News, Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015  (and report from Today’s Zaman further below)

Iraq on Wednesday warned that it will consider military action if Turkey does not comply with Baghdad’s latest demand to withdraw troops from a northern camp where they are training anti-Daesh fighters.

Turkish tanks on Iraq border, (undated photo by Burhan Ozbilici, AP)

Turkish tanks on Iraq border, (undated photo by Burhan Ozbilici, AP)

Ankara earlier this month deployed Turkish troops to northern Iraq to train a Sunni Muslim militia to fight Daesh militants. The deployment outraged Baghdad, which claims the move violates Iraq’s sovereignty.

On December 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey had not honored a commitment to withdraw its troops from the region. Abadi said in a statement that a Turkish delegation to Iraq promised to announce, upon returning to Ankara, that Turkey would withdraw its troops, “but the Turkish government has not respected the agreement and we request that the Turkish government announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Wednesday said that Baghdad will continue to pursue a peaceful resolution, but warned that if “fighting is imposed on us, we will consider it [necessary] to protect our sovereignty, people and resources,” the Associated Press reported.

In response, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday said that if Baghdad wants to use force, it should be against Daesh. Speaking during an interview on NTV, Davutoglu acknowledged there had been “miscommunication” over the troop deployment. He said that Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty but added that Baghdad is not in control of one third of its own territory.

On Monday, Dec 28, Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes drove Daesh militants out of the center of Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, raising the Iraqi flag over the main government complex. Daesh seized control of Ramadi in May in what was the terror group’s biggest advance since the beginning of the US-led air campaign in August 2014.

General Ismail al-Mahlawi, the provincial military commander, said operations were paused in Ramadi on Wednesday due to rainy weather, the AP reported. Daesh militants still control about 30% of the city.

Iraqi PM says Turkey not respecting agreement to withdraw troops

Today’s Zaman, Dec 30, 2015

Iraq’s prime minister accused Turkey on Dec 30 of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the country’s north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty.

The diplomatic dispute flared after Turkey deployed a force protection unit of around 150 troops earlier this month, citing heightened security risks near Bashiqa military base where its troops were training an Iraqi militia to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents in nearby Mosul. Iraqi security forces have had only a limited presence in Nineveh province, where the camp is located, since collapsing in June 2014 in the face of a lightning advance by ISIL.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told his Turkish counterpart in a call on Wednesday that a Turkish delegation had promised to withdraw its troops, according to a statement from his media office. “But the Turkish government has not respected the agreement and we request that the Turkish government announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory,” he said.

Ankara has acknowledged there was a “miscommunication” with Baghdad over the deployment. It later withdrew some troops to another base inside the nearby autonomous Kurdistan region and said it would continue to pull out of Nineveh province, where Bashiqa is located. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a total withdrawal is out of the question, and Abadi repeated to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday that Baghdad had not approved the deployment.

Speaking on Wednesday night, Davutoglu said Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty, but that Baghdad had no control over a third of its own territory. “If Baghdad wants to use force, they should use it against Daesh,” Davutoglu added, using an Arabic name for ISIL.

Abadi said there was no reason for Turkey to expose its trainers to danger by sending them “deep inside Iraqi borders”, and that ISIL posed no danger to Turkey from inside Iraqi territory. Bashiqa is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Turkish border.

Davutoglu also congratulated Abadi after Iraqi forces retook the center of the city of Ramadi this week, a victory that could help vindicate the Iraqi leader’s strategy for rebuilding the military after stunning defeats.

Military action

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said earlier in the day that his government was committed to exhausting peaceful diplomatic avenues to avoid a crisis with Turkey, its northern neighbor, but insisted that all options remained open. “If we are forced to fight and defend our sovereignty and riches, we will be forced to fight,” he told reporters in Baghdad.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in a phone call with Davutoglu earlier this month, welcomed the Turkish troops’ withdrawal and urged Ankara to continue trying to cooperate with Baghdad. Biden will visit Turkey on Jan. 23 and will meet Erdogan and Davutoglu, sources from the Turkish prime minister’s office said on Wednesday.

After the diplomatic row began, the Bashiqa base came under fire from ISIL when militants fired rockets in an attack on Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the area. The Turkish military said its soldiers returned fire and four had been lightly wounded in the incident.

Read also:
Iraq says Turkey not honouring pledge to remove troops, Al Jazeeera, Dec 31, 2015

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