Bahçeli blames Iraqi gov’t for tension with Turkey over troop deployment
AA photoTurkey’s main nationalist leader has stood behind the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in a diplomatic row with Baghdad over the deployment of Turkish troops in a northern Iraqi camp after Baghdad took umbrage with the move.
Iraq’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty rights and its national interests have “vital importance” for Turkey, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said, while emphasizing the need for a display of the same kind of respect by Baghdad for Turkey.
“It is right; the AKP’s Iraq policy is wrong from head to toe. But it is this country which invited Turkish troops and allocated a place in the Bashiqa region. What changed from yesterday to today?” Bahçeli asked Dec. 15 while addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party.
“Turkey’s move to go there in order to train and assist its kin in Türkmeneli and other elements in Iraq is extremely normal. There is nothing to be exaggerated about this. It is not understandable why the Baghdad administration is reacting as if it is hearing about the troop reinforcement operation for the first time,” Bahçeli said.
Earlier this month, Ankara sent troops and tanks on a deployment it described as routine and necessary to protect Turkish trainers working with Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Baghdad has sharply criticized the deployment, terming it an “incursion” that violated the country’s sovereignty, repeatedly demanding the forces be withdrawn and complaining to the United Nations Security Council.
On Dec. 14, Turkey withdrew troops from the Bashiqa camp near the northern city of Mosul, with Turkish military sources saying “some of the Turkish troops stationed in Bashiqa have transited to the north as part of a new arrangement.”