It has taken Turkish President Erdogan less than 2 weeks to demonstrate his hypocrisy. Turkish media has reported that about a few hundred Turkish soldiers along with 20 to 25 tanks and artillery have crossed the border into Iraq and settled in Bashiqa, north-east of the ISIS stronghold in Iraq, Mosul. More questioning are the reports from Turkey’s Anatolia news agency that defend the incursion of Turkish troops as an effort to aid and train the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, hit back at Turkey and called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops, tanks and artillery that is had deployed without any permission from Baghdad.
He says in a statement: “The Iraqi authorities call on Turkey to immediately withdraw from Iraqi territory. We have confirmation that Turkish forces, numbering about one armoured regiment with a number of tanks and artillery, entered Iraqi territory, allegedly to train Iraqi groups, without a request or authorisation from Iraqi federal authorities.”
The most important part of the statement however says that the deployment “is considered a serious violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
This territorial violation that Turkey has just conducted in Iraq is the very same justification given to the destruction of the Russian jet less than 2 weeks earlier. The Russian jet had allegedly violated Turkish airspace for a mere 17 seconds providing the excuse for the attack. With NATO’s quick defence of its fellow member, Turkey escaped all international condemnation for the attack.
However, as explored in an earlier article ,* Turkish territorial violations is nothing new. Although Turkey immediately stopped all violations against Greek airspace after it downed the Russian jet, it has taken less than two weeks for Turkey to continue its policy of territorial incursions on its neighbours by violating Iraqi sovereignty. This is not the first time Turkey has violated Iraq. It has consistently attacked Kurdish forces within Iraq since 2003.
In an online statement, Mr Massoum, Iraq’s President, called on Turkey to take necessary measures “to preserve the country’s sovereignty and independence,” with the full withdrawal of Turkish troops.
Shortly after Turkey downed the Russian jet, Obama emboldened Erdogan by stating: “The United States supports Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace and its territory.” However, now that Turkey has violated Iraqi territory for a lot longer than 17 seconds, the silence from Washington and NATO is deafening with its hypocrisy.
Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, claims that troop rotation was a routine occurrence and that the camp had been set up in coordination with Iraqi authorities. If this is the case, why is the Iraqi leadership so angered by this violation?
Davutoglu states: “This camp was established as a training camp for a force of local volunteers fighting terrorism. It has trained more than 2,000 of our Mosul brothers, contributing to the freeing of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist organisation,” he said in a speech to a labour union that was broadcast live by NTV news channel.
Washington admitted on Friday that the United States were well aware of the Turkish deployment, but washed its hands clean to the hypocrisy by saying that the Turkish actions was not a part of the US-coordinated coalition activities against ISIS.
It has been revealed that the Kurdish Regional Government asked for Turkish help in which they were happy to respond to. However there was no coordination with the legitimate government in Baghdad about this. One must question how Turkey would respond if the governor of Diyarbakir, the Kurdish majority city in south-eastern Turkey, asked for Iraqi military intervention. The hypocrisy of Erdogan’s policy permeates and will continue to do so as long as Washington allows it to.
It is known that Turkey is close with the Kurdish autonomous government in Iraq, despite the fact that Turkey aggressively attack’s PKK forces in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Iraqi President also highlighted that the move is a “violation of international norms, laws and Iraq’s national sovereignty,” and that it will cause further destabilisation. This is evident when taking the head of Iraq’s parliament security and defense committee, Hakim al-Zamili, suggestions into context. He called for airstrikes if Turkish troops and equipment remained in Iraqi territory.
Little evidence can be found for the necessity of Turkey’s violation in Iraq other than the fact Ankara is claiming to be helping anti-ISIS fighters in Iraq. This is despite the fact Turkey continues to bomb non-Peshmerga Kurdish fighting forces and facilitates the ISIS oil trade. With this gross violation of Iraqi sovereignty, could it be conceivable that Erdogan is protecting his ISIS oil racket that has been effectively disrupted in Syria by Russia?
Just yesterday however, Turkey announced that it will be deploying up to 2000 Turkish troops in Iraq, up from a few hundred. In response, Iraq has given an ultimatum to withdraw within 48 hours or face retaliations. Iranian backed Shi’ite militia Kataib Hezbollah have already called for jihad against Turkish troops illegally stationed in Iraq. It is yet to be seen whether the threats from Baghdad or Kataib Hezbollah will come to fruition.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has said Allah was punishing “the ruling clique in Turkey by depriving it of reason or logic.” This seems to be especially true when one considers the hypocrisy of the territorial violation by Turkey in Iraq. It can therefore be suggested that this incursion can serve to push Baghdad closer to Moscow, and formally invite Russia to aid in airstrikes against ISIS and install its sophisticated missile systems seen in Syria into Iraq.
Will Turkey’s gamble pay off in Iraq, or will it spectacularly fail like in Syria?
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al-Masdar News.
Paul Antonopoulos is currently a Candidate for an MA Degree, writing his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War.
You can follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/oulosP