Turkish PM dives into Iraqis’ strife

Turkish PM dives into Iraqis’ strife

Turkish PM dives into Iraqis’ strife

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki has recently warned Kurdish forces not to advance toward government troops. EPA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the Iraqi government of trying to drag the country into a civil war, amid rising tensions between Baghdad and Arbil.

“The [Baghdad] regime wants to lead this [country] into a civil war,” Erdoğan told reporters yesterday in Ankara before he left for Pakistan. “We always worry that Baghdad may lead this tension to an ethnic war and this feared possibility has begun to be realized. This may also result in an oil war,” the prime minister said.

Erdoğan’s comments came after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a warning to Kurdish forces in the northern region not to advance toward government troop positions following deadly clashes in the area last week.

Relations between Baghdad and Kurdistan have been fraught since the establishment of a new military command covering the territory of northern Iraq, and over various other long-running disputes including how to share the region’s oil wealth.

Echo from Al-Nujaifi
Arbil and Baghdad also continue to deploy additional forces to the town of Tuz Khormato, according to Anatolia news agency. The secretary-general of the city council of Salahaddin, Niyazi Mimaroğlu, said a clash may break out at any time.

“Since early Nov. 21, some 500 Iraqi police forces arrived at the town and this increased the worries of the Kurdish population,” Mimaroğlu said.

According to the secretary-general, some 3,000 peshmarga forces have been deployed to the east of the city. Last week clashes erupted in the town, killing a civilian. A Kurdish commander also said he had dispatched peshmargas to a northern area. Commander Mahmoud Sankawi said the forces were shifted to the Khanaqin area overnight from the nearby town of Kifri. The move came a day after the government sent tanks and armored personnel carriers to the Kirkuk area.

Iraqi Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi also launched talks with political leaders in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to contain the crisis and avoid “civil war.”

Al-Nujaifi launched “an initiative aimed at bringing the views between the two sides closer in order to defuse the crisis, and spare the country” from “civil war,” a statement from his office said.

The speaker began “a series of meetings with political leaders in Baghdad and Arbil to reach fundamental solutions to end the crisis and save the country from an internal crisis that could result in serious consequences,” it said.

A subsequent statement said Nujaifi met with al-Maliki yesterday to discuss the crisis, and planned on going today to Arbil for talks with Kurdish leaders.