Turkish PM dismisses Iraqi threats

Turkish PM dismisses Iraqi threats
Ankara rebuffed Baghdad's threat to use force against Turkey if it failed to pull out of its troops from northern Iraq, as the row between the two neighbours escalates.
2 min read
31 December, 2015
Iraq PM Haider al-Abadi urges Turkey to respect Iraqi sovereignty. [Getty]
An escalating war of words over Turkish troops withdrawal from Iraq followed a telephone conversation between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday.

Davutoglu initiated the phone-call between the two Prime Ministers on Wednesday to congratulate Abadi for the success in recapturing the centre of Ramadi.

Abadi emphasised to his counterpart Iraq's complete rejection of Turkish troops presence in Iraq, according to a press release from the Prime Minister's media office.

"The Turkish government has not adhered to the agreement," Abadi said, "We ask the Turkish government to announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory and to respect Iraqi sovereignty and actually withdraw its troops."

Davutoglu reiterated Turkey's respect for Iraqi sovereignty in a televised interview but added that Iraq had lost control of a third of its territory and should instead focus on fighting the Islamic state group.

"We respect Iraqi sovereignty," Davutolgu said in a televised interview on Wednesday, "Unfortunately Iraqi central government cannot control one third of its territory".

"If Baghdad wants to use force, they should use it against Daesh [IS]," Davutoglu added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Davutoglu's comments came in reference to statements by Iraq's foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari who threatened to resort to military action to defend Iraqi sovereignty.

Abadi further added in the conversation with Davutoglu that Turkish trainers do not need to be sent to dangerous locations adding that "Daesh [IS] is on your borders from the Syrian side and you do not fight them."

Prime Minister Davutoglu however ended by reiterating the need for further meetings between Iraq and Turkey to discuss the issue.

Turkey's desire to help Iraq and further that "any dispute between the two countries will certainly be in the interest of Daesh [IS]," he added. 

The diplomatic row has rumbled on for almost a month since early December, when news emerged of Turkey’s deployment of reinforcements to a camp in northern Iraq's Bashiqa region located about 90km from the Turkish border.

The camp was established with the knowledge of Iraqi authorities to train Sunni tribesman and Kurdish fighters to fight Islamic State group, Ankara claims.

Baghdad considers the deployment an illegal incursion and has used repeated diplomatic channels, including the UN Security Council and the Arab League, to fulfil the Iraqi government's demand for a full Turkish withdrawal.

Ankara withdrew some of its troops to another base inside the Kurdistan Region following the intervention of the US president, but others remain.