Erdoğan warns Iraqi prime minister of ‘irreversible chaos’

Erdoğan warns Iraqi prime minister of ‘irreversible chaos’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged his Iraqi counterpart to reconcile with his Sunni coalition partners, warning that a failure to do so could lead to sectarian tensions that would be disastrous for Iraq.

Turkey is concerned the ethnic and sectarian polarization that followed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq could plunge the country into “irreversible chaos,” Erdoğan told Nouri al-Maliki by phone Jan. 10, sources from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“Democracy will suffer if mistrust between coalition partners evolves into hostility,” Erdoğan said, according to the sources. Erdoğan said al-Maliki, as prime minister, held “great responsibility” for ensuring that the government partners in Baghdad act with restraint and common sense and called on the Shiite leader for moves that would ease tensions stemming from an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni politician, sources said. Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s support for Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity and said it was “vital” for Iraq that legal proceedings against political figures were conducted objectively without outside meddling.

Violence has simmered in Iraq in recent weeks amid a political standoff between al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government and the main Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc. Al-Hashemi took refuge in Kurdish-run northern Iraq last month after the authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on charges that he ran a death squad.

Ahead of his conversation with al-Maliki, Erdoğan issued another sharp warning to Iraq to step back from sectarian strife and implicitly accused Iran of fanning the crisis. Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani was scheduled to arrive in Turkey late yesterday for talks with Turkish officials amid rising international tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and threats to close the vital Strait of Hormuz. Larijani will meet with Turkish counterpart Cemil Çiçek today.

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