Why isn't Turkey wanted in Iraq? - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

Why isn't Turkey wanted in Iraq?

In the decision it made the other day, the Iraqi parliament had identified the Turkish troops in Bashiqa as “invading forces.” With a statement that immediately followed, the U.S. had said the Turkish military must urgently withdraw from Iraq. However, yesterday, Iraq's Foreign Ministry identified the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq as “violation” and called the U.N. Security Council to an emergency assembly.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who made a statement regarding the matter on Thursday, said: “For a long time now our military elements have been both fighting and carrying out an operation to train the true owners of the region [Mosul, Bashiqa]. While all this was happening, an incomprehensible reaction came from Iraq in the days drawıng closer to the operation. There are military elements from 63 different countries in Iraq. While the Iraqi Central Government has taken no steps in Iraq where the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is harboring, while there are military elements from 63 countries, its focus on Turkey's presence there is a waste of time. There is no good intentioned aspect of it at all. Whatever Baghdad says, Turkish presence will continue to be there to prevent the region's demographic structure from changing.”

This is what had to be said. Yet, it is obvious why the Iraqi government, which is able to tolerate the presence of military forces from 63 different countries, is disturbed by Turkey training the groups in Iraq.

Yes, it is obvious. As a result of the agreement reached between global powers and Iran, one does not need to be a scholar to see that this time it is playing on the Shiites in the Middle East. Just as one does not need to be a scholar to know that the Shiite Haider al-Abadi administration in Iraq is being directed by the U.S. and Iran.

As in the Yemen example, while Iran is openly playing the sectarian card to expand in its own hinterland, Turkey being the one accused of sectarianism in the eyes of the entire world for some time now, is one of the indicators revealing the situation. The ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, with which it once upon a time created al-Qaida, and paving the way to take legal action against Saudi Arabia due to al-Qaida, are not a development independent of global powers playing on the Shiite.

How do we reach this conclusion? Because al-Abadi is someone who has always taken place in important positions in Iraq ever since the U.S. entered the country and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. After being an adviser in the temporary coalition in the post-Saddam government and then minister right after it – during which he had supported the policy of suspending from state departments the bureaucrats and Sunni employees who worked in the Saddam period – formed the government in 2014 with Iran and the U.S.'s support – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had stated that they supported appreciated al-Abadi's appointment.

Hence, it is impossible to consider the sudden anti-Turkey attitude that emerged in Iraq and, in fact, al-Abadi threatening Turkey with regional war independent of the U.S. and Iran.

So, why do the U.S. and Iran want to prevent Turkey from conducting a possible Daesh operation in Mosul or the likelihood of its joining an operation that is being conducted? The question is new but the answer goes back to the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Because the U.S. does not want Turkey to be an authority in the region, to have a seat at the table and a role in the game.

As for conducting an operation in Mosul or not, they are both situations that will primarily impact Turkey. It should be reminded at this point that the country most effected by the Syrian civil war is also Turkey and that this effect means more than 3 million refugees. Likewise, Turkey is the country harmed most by Daesh attacks as well. Ensuring border security, the necessity to fight the PKK and Daesh are now almost inevitable responsibilities for Turkey.

In the early stages, the U.S. appeared to back Operation Euphrates Shield, but since Turkey's steps in the region also – unavoidably – pacified the common aims of the U.S. and the People's Protection Units (YPG), the Euphrates Shield actually turned out to be an operation that did not comply with U.S. interests. But still, while all suspicious eyes were on the U.S. after the July 15 coup, it had chosen to remain silent. This time, it is trying to be pre-emptive without wasting any time to stop Turkey from advancing with the entire Shiite pole.

Let's hope it does not succeed.


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