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Turkey deploys forces to northern Iraq without Iraqi permission
Protesters burn a Turkish national flag during a demonstration against the Turkish military presence in Iraq, at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, Iraq (Reuters)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the current diplomatic standoff between Turkey and Iraq after Ankara deployed military forces into northern Iraq without permission from the Baghdad government. Iraqi leadership has called upon international entities such as NATO and the United Nations to pressure Turkey into pulling the troops out of Iraq.
News summary of events during the week of 07DEC15 – 14DEC15
- 07DEC: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, promising not to “deploy more troops to Bashika until your concerns about the matter are eased.” (Xinhua)
- 08DEC: Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi asked NATO to press Turkey to pull troops from northern Iraq. (Reuters)
- 09DEC: A brief Turkish military statement said the raids “destroyed” targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in four areas of northern Iraq, including the Qandil mountains on the Iraq-Iran border where the PKK’s leadership is based. (AP)
- 09DEC: Turkey called on its citizens to leave all areas of Iraq excluding Iraqi Kurdistan due to increased security risks. (AFP)
- 09DEC: Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu defended the country’s deployment of additional forces to Iraq, saying it was an “act of solidarity” with Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State group. (AP)
- 11DEC: Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq in a national address, insisting no foreign forces are needed to fight the Islamic State group in his country. (AP)
- 12DEC: Several thousand protesters, most of them members of Shiite paramilitary forces, gathered in central Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Iraq. (AFP)
- 12DEC: Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohammed al-Hakim lodged a complaint with the UN Security council about the unrequested presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil, officials confirmed. (DPA)
- 12DEC: Russian FM Lavrov spoke by phone with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari to discuss the “unlawful incursion” of Turkish troops in northern Iraq. (Reuters)
- 13DEC: Iraq said that it would adhere to political options to end the crisis with Turkey, stressing it would not to allow breaches of its sovereignty. (Xinhua)
- 14DEC: Some of the several hundred Turkish troops stationed in a camp outside the jihadist-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul have been withdrawn. (AFP)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about Turkey deploys forces to northern Iraq
- @KenRoth – Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
- @markmackinnon – Mark MacKinnon, Senior International Correspondent for The Globe and Mail (Canada).
- @FranTownsend – Fran Townsend, Former Homeland Security & Counterterrorism Advisor to President Bush ’03-’08, CNN National Security Analyst ’08-’15, EVP MacAndrews & Forbes ’10-present
- @glcarlstrom – Gregg Carlstrom, Journalist, for The Times (London) and The Economist, previously based in Doha with al Jazeera (English), and in Cairo.
- @LizSly – Liz Sly, Washington Post Beirut bureau chief covering Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and beyond.
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding Turkey deploys forces to northern Iraq
Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Scholar in American Strategy and Statesmanship at the Hudson Institute, James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest
“And Turkey is sending a message: Forget your ‘authority,’ we’re taking matters into our own hands. Ankara’s good relationship with the Iraqi Kurds (the ‘good’ Kurds, from a Turkish point of view—for now) should help with that, because it’s hard to see who will eject them from Iraqi Kurdistan. But they’re in a precarious international legal situation, which gives the Russians, Iranians, and Iraqis options.”
- “Turkey Squares Off Against Russia, Iraq,” The American Interest, 08DEC15
Metehan Demir, Turkish journalist and expert on military affairs for Turkish Daily News and Hurriyet, recipient of the 2003 Chevening Scholarship by the British Royal Academy of Defense, joint Masters from King’s College London
“Baghdad is very well aware of the crisis between Turkey and Russia…and might seek to invite Russian troops in that area to open similar camps to help them. And it means Turkish troops and Russian troops might come face to face.”
- “Turkey Refuses to Withdraw Troops from Iraq,” Voice of America, 07DEC15
Harith al-Qarawee, Iraq researcher at Brandeis University
“For Maliki and his allies in the Shia paramilitary groups, this was an opportunity to consolidate their Shia constituency…[It was also a chance to show that Abadi and his allies] cannot match their powerful reaction to the Turkish intervention.”
- “Baghdad protest against Turkey reveals Iraqi divisions,” AP, 12DEC15
Cengiz Candar, Columnist for Al-Monitor‘s ‘Turkey Pulse’, author of seven books in the Turkish language
“Thanks to Turkish efforts, Osama al-Nujaifi has been elected as the speaker of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad with Kurdish support, while his brother Atheel was governor of Ninevah province from 2009 until this year, albeit of a truncated province after IS took Mosul.
With this in mind, it should not be difficult to look for and find a rationale in Turkey’s latest move involving Mosul.”
- “Are Turkey and Iran reviving a 16th century conflict?,” Al-Monitor, 10DEC15
Patrick Marin, Research Assistant at the Institute for the Study of War
“PM Abadi is facing intense pressure from other Shi’a political parties and Iranian-backed militias on account of [US Special Operations Forces and Turkish] deployments. Some Shi’a parties asserted that the CoR, not the Prime Minister should approve foreign deployments. The Badr Organization raised the possibility of a no-condence vote in PM Abadi. These measures will restrict PM Abadi’s ability to engage the U.S.-led coalition, the intended eect of Iranian-led forces in Iraq that seek to align Iraq with the Russian-Iranian coalition.”
- “Iraq Situation Report: December 3 – 7, 2015,” ISW, 07DEC15
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to Turkey deploys forces to northern Iraq
1. Iraqi prime minister calls for withdrawal of Turkish troops
Media: Associated Press
Date: 11 December 2015
Iraq’s Prime Minister issued a formal request Friday for the Foreign Ministry to submit a complaint to the United Nations about the presence of Turkish troops near the IS-held city of Mosul, as Iraq’s top Shiite cleric admonished Turkey during a sermon in Karbala.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked the UN Security Council to “shoulder its responsibilities,” and order the withdrawal of the Turkish troops stationed in the country’s north at a military base near Mosul.
2.Top Iraq Shiite cleric criticises Turkish deployment
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 11 December 2015
Baghdad, Dec 11, 2015 (AFP) – Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday criticised the deployment of Turkish troops and tanks to the country’s north without Baghdad’s approval.
Baghdad has demanded that Ankara remove the newly-deployed forces, which were sent to a base near the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, but Turkey has pushed for them to stay
3. Turkish PM talks to U.S. VP Biden over Iraq soldiers row: prime ministry sources
Byline: Jonny Hogg and Ercan Gurses
Date: 10 December 2015
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s Prime Minister on Thursday evening told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden by telephone that Turkey respects Iraq’s sovereignty, amid a row over Turkish troops deployed in Iraqi territory, prime ministry sources said.
U.S. officials requested the call, the sources said, in which Davutoglu emphasized that Ankara stands alongside Baghdad in its struggle against Islamic State. A letter expressing these sentiments was also being delivered to the Iraqi PM by a high level Turkish delegation.
4. Turkey: No plans to pull out troops stationed in Iraq
Media: Associated Press
Date: 10 December 2015
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey has no intention of pulling out troops that are stationed in Iraq as part of a training mission to help combat the Islamic State group.
Turkey has stationed troops near Mosul since last year, but the arrival of additional troops last week sparked an uproar in Baghdad, forcing Turkey to halt the new deployment.
5.Turkey defends additional troop deployment in Iraq
Media: Associated Press
Date: 09 December 2015
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s prime minister on Wednesday defended the country’s deployment of additional forces to Iraq last week, saying it was an “act of solidarity” with Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State group.
Turkey has stationed troops at a base outside Mosul since last year as part of a training mission coordinated with the Iraqi government in Baghdad. The arrival of additional Turkish forces last week, however, sparked uproar in the Iraqi capital.