Turkish government seeks mandate for troops in Syria and Iraq

Turkish government seeks mandate for troops in Syria and Iraq

Turkish government seeks mandate for troops in Syria and Iraq With days left to controversial independence referendum of Iraqi Kurds, the Turkish government will seek a mandate from the Parliament to send troops to Iraq and Syria after consecutive security meetings where measures to be taken against the Arbil administration have been decided. 

The Turkish Parliament is set to hold an extraordinary session on Sept 23 to vote on a mandate that permits the government to deploy troops to its southern neighboring countries, Iraq and Syria, just two days before the scheduled referendum to be held by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). 

According to the text of the motion already submitted to the Parliament, the government seeks the mandate on the grounds that efforts to break the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria will endanger Turkey’s national security, in direct reference to KRG’s referendum. It does also recall ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoot, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). 

Before the parliamentary vote, Turkey convened the National Security Council (MGK) before the Cabinet meeting on Sept 22 immediately after the return of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from the United States. Along with Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and senior military and civilian officials joined the MGK meeting. Later in the day, President Erdoğan chaired the cabinet meeting to register advisory decisions taken at the MGK meet.  

As efforts to convince KRG President Massaoud Barzani to call off the referendum failed, Turkey harshened its opposition in recent days and launched a military drill along the Iraqi border.  Turkey, Iran and Iraq did also issue a joint declaration and announced their agreement to take counter-measures in coordination against the Arbil’s independence bid. 

Turkey’s natural rights  

Before the MGK meet on Sept 22, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım reiterated Turkey’s position and stressed that Ankara “will not refrain from using its natural rights” regarding the referendum. 

“This referendum is an issue of Turkey’s national security. Turkey is determined to use its natural rights originating from international and bilateral conventions and will not hesitate in this,” Yıldırım told reporters in Ankara.

Articles 3 and 16 of the Lausanne Treaty and bilateral agreements between Turkey and Iraq signed in 1926, 1946 and 1983 allow Turkish military intervention, Yıldırım said, recalling that Turkey will never accept changes in the status of Iraq and Syria. 

He once again reiterated Ankara’s call to KRG President Barzani to cancel the referendum, stating that it will not bring any benefit to the Kurdish people in the region. “There is still time. The KRG, Barzani should better give it up. A referendum in open violation of bilateral and international law will not bring any benefit to our Kurdish brothers in the region. There are already problems in the region,” he said, citing ongoing fight against terror organizations. “They should avoid adding new problems. “ 

Inclusion of Kırkuk is “calamity”

The prime minister did also criticize KRG for including oil-rich Kırkuk to the independence vote, describing the move as a “calamity”. 

70 percent of this city is originally Turkmen but its demographic structure has been changed, Yıldırım said, recalling the city’s status is still in dispute. “Therefore inclusion of Kırkuk to the vote is another unlawful aspect of this referendum. That’s why Kurdistan Regional Government should give up of this adventure.”