Consul in Mosul in limbo amid tension

Consul in Mosul in limbo amid tension

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Consul in Mosul in limbo amid tension

Iraqi PM al-Maliki visits President Talabani at the presidential palace in Baghdad. AA photo

The position of Turkey’s Mosul consul remains in limbo following the Iraqi Cabinet’s decision to replace the Turkish envoy, as both Ankara and Baghdad have refrained from taking any action on the issue.

Infuriated by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s visit last August to Kirkuk, which Baghdad claimed took place without the knowledge of the Iraqi authorities, the Iraqi Cabinet asked that Ahmet Yazal, Turkey’s envoy in Mosul, be replaced.

The Iraqi government has not yet officially asked Yazal to leave his post. The Turkish ambassador in Baghdad has been unofficially informed by Iraqi officials that Yazal will not be declared persona non grata, but that Baghdad is expecting the Turkish government to replace him. But Iraqi officials have so far refrained from putting pressure on Ankara to act soon on the issue.

Yazal, who began work as Mosul consul last November, was originally posted there for a one-year period. But Ankara seems unwilling to replace him following the decision of the Iraqi cabinet, as this might be perceived as Turkey accepting that the Kirkuk visit was wrong, and backing down due to pressure from Baghdad.

The consul is blamed for not informing the Iraqi Foreign Ministry about Davutoğlu’s visit to Kirkuk. Ironically, while Ankara also holds Yazal to be responsible for Kirkuk, the Iraqi central government has not accepted that Kirkuk belongs to the area of responsibility of the Musul consul. For this reason, Yazal has not set foot in Kirkuk in the nine months he has been serving in Mosul. Another irony is that Yazal was on holiday when Davutoğlu came to Arbil and then went on to Kirkuk. Yazal was not even in attendance for the visit.

Because Yazal was originally sent to Mosul for a one-year period, Ankara may also decide to replace him in due time, in order not to put further strain on its already tense relations with the government of Nouri al-Maliki, whose style of ruling is Turkey fiercely criticizes. A unilateral decision by Baghdad, however, to declare Yazal persona non grata, would meet with a reciprocal action on the part of Ankara, which would then ask Iraq’s consul in Istanbul to leave.

Kirkuk was once an issue of contention between Iraqi Kurds, who claimed the city belonged to the Kurdish region, and Turkey, which opposed the Kurdish claims, arguing that the city should have a special status due to the presence of Turkmens and Arabs. Kirkuk has now become an issue of contention between Ankara and al-Maliki, who is also the target of criticism from Iraq’s Kurds, who are now more allied with Iraq’s Sunni and secular Arabs. Turkish officials believe al-Maliki has been provoking the Arabs in Kirkuk against the Kurds.


BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse

The Middle East is going through “dangerous” times as some governments spend large amounts of money on stirring sectarian strife, Iraq’s premier said. “Today, the region lives (under) a dangerous wave of challenges, the real root of which is sectarianism,” Nouri al-Maliki said. He was apparently referring to Qatar and Saudi Arabia that have allegedly provided assistance to Syrian rebels. He has accused Turkey in the past, saying Turkey is acting in favor of one ethnic group and against another.