Iraqi PM warns Turkey amid Ankara’s troop deployment
BAGHDADIraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Nov. 1 warned Turkey against provoking a confrontation, while stressing that he does not want war, after Ankara deployed tanks and artillery near its border with Iraq.
Turkey has insisted that it will play a role in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but Baghdad has rejected Turkey’s involvement and repeatedly called on Ankara to withdraw troops it had deployed in a camp in Bashiqa, which lies near the jihadist-held city.
“The invasion of Iraq will lead to Turkey being dismantled,” AFP quoted al-Abadi as saying in a televised news conference on Nov. 1.
“We do not want war with Turkey, and we do not want a confrontation with Turkey. But if a confrontation happens, we are ready for it. We will consider [Turkey] an enemy and we will deal with it as an enemy,” he added.
Turkish Armed Forces began deploying tanks and other armored vehicles from the Ankara-based 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade to Silopi in Şırnak near the border with Iraq, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Nov. 1, three days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the country would reinforce its troops along its border.
The 30-vehicle convoy left Ankara to Silopi, which is opposite to the Iraqi town of Tel Afar, toward which Iran-backed Shiite al-Hashd al-Shaabi launched an offensive to liberate from ISIL, the sources told AFP, adding that it was now near the Adana province in southern Turkey.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık said the deployment was part of Ankara’s preparation for “important developments in the region,” referring to the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside the country and events in Iraq.
It is the latest escalation in a protracted dispute between Baghdad and Ankara that has seen repeated calls from Baghdad for Turkish troops to be withdrawn, and Ankara continuing to be insistent in being part of the Mosul operation.
A military confrontation between the two countries would be disastrous for Iraq, whose forces are tied down in the battle for Mosul that it launched on Oct. 17.