Baghdad moves to end Turkish presence in north Iraq

Baghdad moves to end Turkish presence in north Iraq

BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
Baghdad moves to end Turkish presence in north Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meets with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (R). AFP Photo

Iraq's cabinet today called for the abrogation of treaties permitting foreign forces in Iraq, a move a high-ranking official said is aimed at ending Turkey's military presence in the north.

Turkey has maintained several military bases in north Iraq since the 1990s.

"The cabinet decided to reject the presence of any foreign bases or forces on Iraqi land and to reject the entry of any foreign military forces into Iraqi land," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

And it "recommends that parliament cancel and not extend any treaty signed in the past with any foreign state that allows the presence of foreign forces and military bases on Iraqi land or the entry of these forces," he said.

A high-ranking Iraqi official said that the decision was aimed at Turkish military bases in the north Iraq province of Dohuk, one of the three provinces that make up the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The treaty in question "is the one that Saddam Hussein signed in 1995 allowing Turkish forces to have a presence in Iraq's northern regions to pursue the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)," the official said on condition of anonymity, referring to a Kurdish rebel group with bases in north Iraq.

KRG premier Nechirvan Barzani has previously said that an agreement had been in force since 1997 to allow the Turks to have military bases inside the Kurdish region.

Ties between Iraq and Turkey have been marred by a flurry of disputes this year, including Ankara's refusal to extradite Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last month declined an invitation to visit Turkey, a decision his spokesman said was taken because "his schedule is crowded and he is busy."