Baghdad ‘rejects’ Turkish armed forces in Iraq

20 September 2016 04:12
Baghdad ‘rejects Turkish armed forces in Iraq

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s foreign minister warned his Turkish counterpart on Sunday that Baghdad is against the deployment of Turkish troops in the northern Iraqi town of Bashik, and stressed that any kind of military maneuvers on the border between the two nations without consultation with Baghdad would be rejected. 

“Once again, Baghdad is against the presence of Turkish troops near Bashik", said Ibrahim Jaafari.

He called on Turkey to withdraw its forces to bring an end to this matter which has soured political ties between Ankara and Baghdad.

Jaafari made his comments in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of meetings at a summit of Cold War-era non-aligned countries in Venezuela, according to an announcement released by Jaafari’s office.

Turkey-Iraq relations took a turn for the worse in the wake of the deployment of some 150 Turkish soldiers to Iraq in early December last year. Turkish officials said their troops were there to train local forces near Mosul and the Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against ISIS.

Despite numerous calls by Baghdad to the international community and the UN that the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq is "a territorial violation against the sovereignty of Iraq," no withdrawal of the Turkish troops has been seen. Rather they are still present in Nineveh province, based at Camp Bashiq, 70 kilometres west of Erbil.

Jaafari reiterated that Iraqis “are rejecting any military maneuvers on borders, without prior knowledge given to the Iraqi government.”

The Iraqi foreign minister “was surprised by comments made by Turkish officials that they are going to carry out a military operation by Turkey in Iraq, similar to the one in Syria,” read the statement, referring to Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which has been ongoing for almost a month. 

Speaking about the failed military coup which took place in mid-July in Turkey, Jaafari explained that “Baghdad had a positive position towards Ankara in the face of the attempted coup, and even now Baghdad is stressing the improvement of its relations with Turkey.”

Cavusoglu said that his country is “with the unity of Iraq.”

He also said that Turkey is closely watching “victories against terror,” in Iraq and throughout the region.