Turkey blames Iraq’s Shiite-dominated gov’t for Mosul’s fall, vows continued efforts

Turkey blames Iraq’s Shiite-dominated gov’t for Mosul’s fall, vows continued efforts

Turkey blames Iraq’s Shiite-dominated gov’t for Mosul’s fall, vows continued efforts

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In a move likely to add insult to injury for Baghdad, the Turkish government has put the blame on the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government for the fall of Mosul, while also vowing to continue military assistance for Iraq until Mosul is liberated.

Days after Turkey announced over the weekend its decision to continue to remove its troops from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul after nearly 10 days of tension with the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies on Dec. 22 that Turkey’s military training and equipment support for Iraq will continue until Mosul is liberated.

Mosul’s fall to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 10, 2014, displayed the need for cooperation between local and international forces, Davutoğlu said at a parliamentary group meeting of his AKP.

“Within this framework and in line with Iraqi authorities’ demands, we have been providing training and equipment to both the Peshmerga and the local Mosul volunteers. Our support will continue until Mosul is liberated,” Davutoğlu said, arguing that a Dec. 18 attack against a base in northern Iraq where Turkish troops were stationed justified their position on the issue.

In a speech delivered at parliament a few hours later in the same day, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz explained to members of the national assembly how Turkey’s internal peace and the security of its citizens were related to developments in neighboring countries, as each crisis in Iraq in the last three decades led to weighty consequences for Turkey as well.

“Iraq’s al-Qaeda, which lost significant power four-five years ago, has revived again with the crisis in Syria. Daesh [ISIL], which arose from this terrorist group, has exploited ethnic, sectarian and political fault lines in Iraq. Consequently, it has become an open threat for our country, our region and the international community,” Yılmaz said. 

“The fact that it keeps one-third of Iraq’s territories under its control and that it captured a province like Mosul, which has critical importance in strategic, economic and logistical senses, lies at the bottom of the threat posed by Daesh. Therefore, ensuring Iraq’s stability passes from neutralizing Daesh. This can only be possible through the recapture of Mosul, which has, in the first place, strategic importance. The question to which we need to seek an answer is by whom, by which forces and with which capacity Mosul can be recaptured,” he said.

According to Yılmaz, it is not possible to explain Mosul’s fall to ISIL with this group’s experiences and warfare capabilities.

“The Iraqi army’s 70,000-strong forces deployed in Egypt, for which the international community has spent vast resources since 2003, handed Mosul over to Daesh without showing any resistance,” he said. “In the face of the Daesh attack, the Iraqi army, almost all of which is composed of Shiites, didn’t consider Mosul, which is a Sunni province, as its homeland and didn’t even fire a single bullet to defend those territories,” he said, putting the blame for ISIL’s further advance in Mosul on “the central government’s exclusionist and sectarian policies,” which also led to frustration among Mosul’s people, prompting them to not show resistance to ISIL.

During the same plenary session, former Turkish consul-general Öztürk Yılmaz, who was among 49 people kidnapped by ISIL for 101 days in Mosul before his release in September 2014, also took to the rostrum.
“Turkey couldn’t meet the balances in this region during this period,” Yılmaz, now a deputy for Ardahan from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said.

“We have forgotten even the number of tribes whom we invited to Turkey before ISIL invaded Mosul and the north of Baghdad. We invited all of the Sunni tribes to Turkey. We left aside the state and all Sunni tribes came to Turkey. They wined and dined and made plans and then on June 11, 2014, they all obeyed [ISIL leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Is politics something like this?” Yılmaz asked.