Erdoğan slams Iraqi PM over his remarks

Erdoğan slams Iraqi PM over his remarks

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hit back at Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, calling his criticism of Turkey “ugly and unfortunate.” Erdoğan vowed Turkey “will not stand by and watch while brothers quarrel in Iraq,” adding that Ankara had conveyed its concerns also to Iran.

“We expect the Iraqi administration to act with responsibility in order to hamper sectarian clashes,” Erdoğan said yesterday to his party’s deputies. Turkey’s prime minister cited the United States’ intervention in Iraq and Turkish Parliament’s position dismissing permission for U.S. troops to enter Iraq via the Turkish border.

Al-Maliki has criticized Turkey’s “interventions” into Iraqi affairs, warning Ankara itself could suffer if its actions sparked conflict in the Middle East. Erdoğan’s words came amid ongoing tension between Turkey and Iraq following al-Maliki’s legal action against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. Al-Maliki charged him with running a death squad and al-Hashemi was holed up in semi-autonomous northern Iraq.

Turkey did not enter Iraq because Turkey’s “Iraqi brothers didn’t want it to,” Erdoğan said, recalling the vote in Turkish Parliament ahead of the Iraqi War. “You welcome those who have no close relation with Iraq, those who came from thousands of kilometers far away and never speak against them, but say ‘neighboring Turkey was interfering in our internal affairs,’” Erdoğan said. No one could say al-Maliki was a fair prime minister as he was launching tanks in front of coalition party ministers’ houses, Erdoğan said. “How could such an administration be understanding?” 

Al-Hashemi said recently he felt indebted to Erdoğan because of his caring for Iraqi democracy and supported the prime minister’s statements. Al-Hashemi said Erdoğan responded to his calls for help two months ago. “I feel indebted to Erdoğan for making statements in my case. Two months ago I told Erdoğan that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cornered me in the Green Zone and seized my office with armored vehicles and tanks.

Erdoğan specially dealt with my case,” al-Hashemi said. Al-Hashemi has offered to return to Baghdad to appear before judiciary there but only if al-Maliki resigns his post first, Anatolia news agency reported. 

Meanwhile, a series of car bombs exploded in Shiite areas of Baghdad yesterday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 60, an interior ministry official said. The bombings are the latest in a spate of attacks against Shiites, which have risen since US forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq on Dec. 18.