Turkey widens travel warning list to 15 Iraq provinces
Sevil Erkuş ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A member of the oil police force stands guard at Zubair oilfield in Basra, southeast of Baghdad June 18. REUTERS PhotoTurkey has updated its travel warning for Iraq, increasing the number of Iraqi provinces where Turkish citizens may face security problems, from seven to 15.
Anbar, Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Kirkuk and Salahaddin were already listed by the Foreign Ministry as provinces that Turkish citizens should avoid travelling through.
“Negative propaganda, based on some groundless claims against our country, along with some other countries, has been spread particularly in the southern provinces that are dominated mostly by Shiites,” the Foreign Ministry noted in a written statement released June 18.
“In light of the recent developments, and due to the fact that security problems have spread into a wider area of Iraq, eight more in the south of Baghdad [that includes] Babil, Najaf, Karbala, Wasit, Maysan, al-Qadisiyyah, al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar” have been added to the list.
Davutoğlu meets Iraqi, Qatari and Saudi ministers
According to diplomatic sources, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with his colleagues from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Qatar in Jeddah on June 18 on the sidelines of the Islamic Cooperation Organization meeting. Davutoğlu demanded that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari provide additional security for the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad in the face of growing security concerns. He also discussed the worsening security situation across Iraq and the abduction of 80 Turkish citizens, including its consul-general, Öztürk Yıldırım.
Sources could not confirm whether 15 more Turkish workers had been abducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and said there were claims that another four Turkish citizens had also been kidnapped. They said there was no additional information on the identities of these individuals or where they disappeared, and also added that there was no fresh news about the 80 Turkish citizens who have been held by ISIL since last week.
In the meantime, sources said there were currently 9,690 trucks in Iraq and that the International Transporters’ Association (UND) was dispatching personnel to the Turkish-Iraqi border to check the truck traffic to and from Iraq.
Ten personnel evacuated from Turkey’s Basra consulate to Kuwait returned home yesterday, and there are considerations about having some Turkish diplomats stay in Kuwait in case there is a need to return to Basra to work.
Sectarian tension in the Shiite regions of Iraq could pose security problems for Turkish citizens because of their Sunni identity. The estimated number of Turks in the 15 provinces of Iraq, apart from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is 3,000 to 4,000. According to figures provided by the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad, around 3,000 Turks have already left the Baghdad and Najaf regions, while around 10,000 Turks have returned to Turkey via air or land routes since June 11. Sources stated that 71 citizens had contacted the Baghdad embassy to ask for help.