Turkish parliament approves extension of mandate for troop deployment in Iraq and Syria
ANKARAThe Turkish parliament on Sept. 23 approved the extension of a mandate permitting the government to deploy troops to Iraq and Syria for another year, just two days before the scheduled referendum to be held by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The motion was approved by a large majority in the assembly with deputies from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) joining the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) while opposition People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputies voted it down.
Speaking on behalf of the government during the extraordinary session, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said the referendum would always be null and void for Turkey.
Canikli stated that all options and methods were on the table regarding the referendum and Turkey will not hesitate to use them.
He said the referendum would bring very dangerous consequences and it may also lead to clashes even in global terms.
"Pulling out just a brick from a structure based on very sensitive and fragile balances will sow the seeds for new hatred, enmity and clashes," Canikli said.
The minister also added that the Syrian Kurdish YPG was pursuing a "political formation" along the Syrian border.
“It is impossible to avert those threats unless Turkey takes steps to remove those mistakes and threats actively on the field,” Canikli said.
“Those risks that threaten our security are still active and there is a need for the authorizations demanded with this mandate,” he added.
MHP deputy group chair Erkan Akçay said Turkey clearly stated with the mandate that it could face up to anything for the future of the country and it was not playing a game.
"With this motion we say uncategorically that we’re not joking about suddenly coming at night, on not playing games, and we can afford anything at all for the survival of Turkey," said Akçay.
He added: "The pirate referendum which is illegal and unacceptable should be cancelled before it is too late."
However, HDP deputy Osman Baydemir stated that an alliance between AKP and MHP and other “evil focus groups” brought Turkey into a bad situation, claiming that the mandate amounted to a “clear declaration of enmity against the Kurdish people.”
His words immediately sparked debate at the session.
For the main opposition CHP group, Ardahan deputy Öztürk Yılmaz said the KRG referendum did not comply with the international law as well as the Iraqi constitution.
Yılmaz said that the referendum would also endanger security in the region, adding, "Israel wants to use Barzani against Iran."
He said: "We want the referendum to be cancelled and support the motion not for war but for peace in the region."
On the ruling AKP ranks, Istanbul deputy Volkan Bozkır called for a complete cancellation of the referendum, stating that it would prevent further unrest in the region.
"We cannot continue our relations as they were before with an administration that moves against the Iraqi Constitution," Bozkır said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım held a surprise meeting with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli during a break at the session.
The government motion had previously allowed the Turkish military to carry out cross-border operations from Oct. 2, 2016, until Oct. 31, 2017.
The motion stated that Turkey places great importance on the protection of Iraq's territorial integrity, national unity, and stability.