Baghdad proposes Ankara handover of Bashiqa camp to Iraq

Baghdad proposes Ankara handover of Bashiqa camp to Iraq

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Baghdad proposes Ankara handover of Bashiqa camp to Iraq Baghdad has suggested that Turkey hand over control of the Bashiqa military camp in Mosul to Iraq’s central government, rejecting Turkey’s proposal to run the camp under the auspices of the coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Iraqi government revised a draft proposal agreement on the status of Bashiqa, to which Turkish troops were deployed in order to train local fighters against ISIL, submitting the new version to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Nov. 7, Iraqi Ambassador in Ankara Dr. Hisham al-Alawi said, adding that Baghdad was now waiting for Turkey’s response.

Al-Alawi said in the new draft, “the two sides confirm each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as stability with a commitment to enhance security cooperation and counter terrorism.”

Iraq’s new draft agreement also states that two sides confirmed that the Bashiqa camp is an Iraqi camp, that Iraq must exercise its sovereignty over the camp and that it must be responsible for the administration of the camp,” al-Alawi said Nov. 11 at a panel about Ninovah operation. “This is slightly different from the initial proposal made by the Turkish delegation.”

A Turkish delegation visited Baghdad in October and proposed a five-point draft agreement including running the military camp under the auspices of the coalition forces.

Turkey assures Baghdad of troop withdrawal

“When it comes to joint forces, details will be discussed agreed with relative authorities and countries,” he said, elaborating on the training of fighters in the camp in joint efforts with coalition forces against ISIL. 

“The Iraqi government is willing to benefit from an offer made by the Turkish government to provide trainers, advisers and support in terms of medical aid and humanitarian aid, provided that [the issue of the] Bashiqa camp is resolved in a way that is acceptable to Iraq,” the ambassador stated.

Turkey assured Baghdad that Ankara would withdraw Turkish troops from the region when security returns to northern Iraq, he noted. 

Al-Alawi said he was optimistic of a mutually acceptable solution on Turkish deployment in northern Iraq and stressed that an agreement sooner would be better.

Iraqi government rejects PKK presence in Sinjar

The ambassador also stressed that Baghdad was against the presence of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members in the Sinjar region, as it rejects any foreign groups on Iraqi territory as per the country’s constitution. 

“The PKK presence in northern Iraq, in Sinjar, happened without permission of the Iraqi government. When it comes to a possible contribution to operations in Sinjar, the Iraqi government see no role for the PKK in the Ninovah or Mosul operation,” he said.

But the ambassador also complained about a deal between the Turkish government and the PKK as part of a peace process that suggested the group would decamp to Iraqi territory. 

“In 2013, when the Turkish government had a deal with the PKK leaders, facilitated by the Kurdish Regional Government, we were not happy with the encouragement that PKK members would go to Iraqi territory. The Iraqi central government was not involved in that particular agreement,” he stated.

The ambassador said he asked the Turkish Foreign Ministry to clarify claims by Turkish politicians that the Iraqi government had lent support to the PKK. 

Turkish officials told him that those reports did not suggest that Baghdad was “actively supporting PKK members, but there is a fact that they were referring to local citizens, Yazidis who are living in Sinjar,” al-Alawi said.

“They joined popular mobilization units. Because there are Peshmerga and some PKK members present in Sinjar, there was some cooperation between them. Local Iraqi citizens became part of the local fighters and groups,” he added.