Iraq tells Turkey: Do not interfere in our affairs

Iraq tells Turkey: Do not interfere in our affairs

Iraq tells Turkey: Do not interfere in our affairs

Turkish PM Erdoğan (L) and his counterpart al-Maliki (C) are seen in this photo. ‘Their [Turkey’s] latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs. If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs,’ says Iraqi PM. REUTERS photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has criticized Turkey’s “interventions” into Iraqi affairs, warning that Ankara itself could suffer if its actions sparked conflict in the Middle East.

“We ... did not expect the way [Turkey to] interfere in Iraq,” al-Maliki said Jan. 13 in an interview with the Al-Hurra satellite television channel.

His remarks come amid a political row in Iraq, with authorities charging Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi with running a death squad. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his concerns over the deadlock to al-Maliki in a telephone conversation Jan. 10.

Al-Hashemi, who is currently holed up in semi-autonomous northern Iraq, has mooted the possibility of going to Turkey although officials have already barred him from overseas travel. “Recently, we noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them,” he said. “Their latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs ... and we do not allow that absolutely. If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs.”

Al-Maliki warned that “Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities.” Erdoğan voiced concern over Iraq’s political stand-off to al-Maliki in a Jan. 10 telephone conversation.

Gunmen storm Iraq compound, kill seven

“Democracy will take a beating if the doubts being felt by partners in the coalition government transform into animosity,” Anatolia news agency quoted Erdoğan as saying. Erdoğan recently called on political and religious leaders in Iraq to stem sectarian tensions stoked by the festering row.

Apart from al-Maliki’s remarks, Iraqi security forces yesterday battled gunmen who detonated a car bomb before blasting their way into a government compound and killing seven policemen in a one-time Sunni insurgent hotbed, police and local government officials said. The three-hour standoff between Shiite-dominated security forces and suspected Sunni insurgents in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, 115 kilometers west of Baghdad, marked the first serious gun battle for Iraqi forces against insurgents without American backup.

After detonating bombs, six gunmen stormed the compound, which houses the investigations and intelligence directorate and a building under construction that will be the new office of the mayor of Ramadi, and were holed up in the latter facility until around afternoon, according to police and medical officials. Yesterday’s violence in mostly Sunni Ramadi came a day after a suicide attacker targeting Shiites killed 53 people on the outskirts of the southern city of Basra.