Turkey proposes international plan on post-ISIL Mosul status
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
AA photoTurkey has called on the international community to start drafting an international plan for Mosul to ensure the city is governed by mainly local groups, a senior government official has said, underlining that Ankara was ready to take all measures to avoid any attempted ethnic cleansing after the region is cleared of jihadists.
“Mosul should be governed by the people of Mosul. Works to shape an international plan on Mosul’s status should begin now. Leaving the control of the city to groups from different regions would create worse problems,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told Ankara bureau chiefs of newspapers at a meeting on Oct. 19. “We hope very much to see that the Mosul operation will end in such a way that the region will no longer face the risk of any divisions. The operation is being run in accordance with the sensitivities we have made already clear.”
Turkey is greatly concerned by the possibility of Shiite militias’ active participation in the Mosul operation, fearing that they could attempt to change the demography of the overwhelmingly Sunni city by force. Shiite militias were not included in the operation as a result of long discussions between Ankara and Washington. Turkey has continued to issue its strong warnings to Iraq and members of the Mosul coalition regarding a new sectarian clash.
“There could be some very bad results of a potential attack by the al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Shiite militias] on Sunnis in Mosul. Turkey will take every measure to prevent this from happening,” Kurtulmuş said, emphasizing that it would even consider military action in the case of the ethnic cleansing of Sunni groups.
“We hope there will be no such dangers. We will continue to closely follow the developments. We have made it clear that we will enter the field if required.”
The international coalition’s operation to liberate Mosul should not bring about sectarian clashes and ethnic cleansing, he said, reiterating that Turkey could not stay silent to such activity.
The deputy prime minister echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said Turkey would be in the field and at the table on Mosul as the city was critical to Turkey’s security. Turkey’s efforts to train local groups in Mosul at the Bashiqa camp will continue, he said, underlining that the security of Turkish troops constituted another red line for Ankara. “For us, any threat or attack against Bashiqa will be no different than an attack against Ankara.”
Turkey’s five main concerns
Kurtulmuş said Turkey had five main concerns and expectations from the international coalition regarding the Mosul operation:
-The demography of Mosul and the surrounding regions should not be changed in the name of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
-The operation should not be handled in a way to start a fresh sectarian or ethnic clash in the region. Using the definitions of Shiite or Kurdish militias is not right.
-No terror organization, under any form or name, should be allowed to enter Mosul as the city is cleared of ISIL.
-Turkey’s presence at Bashiqa will continue.
-Those countries who do not want Turkey to be in the field should ask themselves about their motivation for being in Mosul. Turkey shares a 1,250-kilometer border with Syria and Iraq and regards developments in these countries as part of its security. The operation against ISIL in Mosul could create new refugee flows into Turkey and begin a fresh terrorist campaign. It is only natural for Turkey to be part of such operations.