Turkish parliament starts debating military action in Syria, Iraq
AA PhotoTurkey's Parliament on Oct. 2 began debating a government request to grant authorization to the Turkish Armed Forces to combat jihadists in Syria and Iraq and to open its bases to foreign troops.
The proposal, submitted by the government to Parliament, would broaden existing military powers in a bid to enable the army to “defeat attacks directed toward our country from all terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.”
The motion will be voted on today following a closed session due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“The Cabinet has decided ... to ask permission from Parliament ... to send the Turkish Armed Forces, if necessary, to foreign countries for cross-border operations and interventions and to position foreign militaries in Turkey for the same purposes,” the proposal outlined.
“The terrorist elements of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] still exist in northern Iraq. On the other hand, the significant increase in the number of other terrorist elements in Syria and the threat posed by them in Iraq is also alarming,” said the motion, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The motion specifically cites as its impetus increasing security risks regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
The proposal, prepared for a period of one year, also includes a mandate for the government to send Turkish Armed Forces to “foreign countries.”
“The motion we are about to send the Parliament is going to be comprehensive and to deal today’s and tomorrow’s threats,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bülent Arınç told reporters late Sept. 30 following a weekly Cabinet meeting.
Asked whether the motion to be sent to Parliament will include sending troops to foreign countries to establish security zones, allow the deployment of foreign troops on Turkish soil and open Turkish military bases to foreign troops, Arınç said: “Let me include one more option: All. The motion will refer to all of these points you have asked.”
“We are a determined government. We perfectly know what’s going on inside and outside Turkey. This issue of security zone and other issues all have diplomatic and military reflections,” he said.
Arınç also said ISIL militants were advancing on the Süleyman Şah Tomb in northern Syria, which Turkish soldiers continue to guard.
The motion is based on Article 92 of Turkey’s Constitution that requires parliamentary authorization to send troops to another country or to allow the deployment of foreign troops on Turkish soil.
Turkish troops are currently authorized by Parliament to operate across the border with Iraq to defend Turkey against the PKK. A second motion authorizes cross-border defense against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Today’s session was originally aimed at extending the term of existing motions on Iraq and Syria, set to expire on Oct. 4 and 17, respectively. The government has decided to combine authorization for action related to Iraq and Syria in a single motion.