Ankara sticking its nose in Iraq: Maliki

Ankara sticking its nose in Iraq: Maliki

WASHINGTON - Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara sticking its nose in Iraq: Maliki

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is seen during an interview in Baghdad Dec 3. AP Photo

Turkey is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs by “backing certain political figures and blocs,” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said during an interview.

“We welcome [Turkey] to cooperate with us economically, and we are open to them, but we do not welcome interference in political matters,” al-Maliki said.

“Turkey interferes by backing certain political figures and blocs. We have continuously objected to their previous ambassador’s involvement in local politics and officials have admitted their faults,” al-Maliki said during an interview with the Wall Street Journal that was released Dec. 12. “There will no longer be an argument for Iran to interfere in Iraqi affairs [directly] or through some [political] blocs and parties.”

Noting that his country had close ties with Russia, Iran, Turkey and Arab nations, al-Maliki said relations were at risk when those countries impede Iraq’s sovereignty.

On the recent developments in Syria, al-Maliki said he sent a message to President Bashar al-Assad less than a month ago calling on him to make reforms and accept an Arab League initiative to stop the violence.

Al-Maliki said al-Assad’s answer was positive.

Obama heralds end of divisive Iraq war

U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, heralded the end of the divisive Iraq war Dec. 12 but said the United States would remain a major player in the region even without a troop presence in Iraq, Associated Press reported yesterday.

“Our strong presence in the Middle East endures,” Obama said. “And the United States will never waiver in the defense of our allies, our partners and our interests.”

The U.S. plans to sell Iraq 18 more F-16 fighter jets as Baghdad seeks to secure its airspace after the full withdrawal of U.S. forces this month, a U.S. official said Dec. 12, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday. “Today the administration notified Congress of its intent to sell Iraq a second tranche of 18 F-16s,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.