ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi lawmaker said on Tuesday that his government should give up on dealing with Turkey diplomatically regarding its military activity on Iraq’s borders, saying the Turkish president "understands only the language of force."
Lately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to launch cross-border military operations to attack the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in the Qandil Mountains and Sinjar (Shingal) areas of the Kurdistan Region.
Turkish forces and aircraft have already crossed the northern Iraqi region with the intention of targeting PKK bases in the area.
“The Iraqi government should discontinue diplomatic means in dealing with Turkey because Erdogan understands only the language of force,” Mansour al-Baeji, a Shia lawmaker from the State of Law Coalition said in a Tuesday statement.
The State of Law Coalition, led by former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki, is the largest bloc in Baghdad's Parliament.
The lawmaker's statement accused the Turkish President of meddling with the balance of power in regional countries.
“The Ottoman dream is not absent the ambitions of the Turkish President as he tries to impose his influence and control the region, taking advantage of special conditions in neighboring countries to interfere by deploying Turkish forces,” al-Baeji said,
After multiple Turkish threats of cross-border operations, particularly in Shingal, the PKK announced on Friday that they had withdrawn their fighters from the city.
The PKK is designated as a ‘terrorist’ organization by Turkey, the EU, and the US. The group took up arms against Ankara in the 1980s to demand more rights for Kurds in an insurgency that has killed thousands of people on both sides. Since then, an estimated 40,000 people from both sides have been killed in the conflict.
Al-Baeji stated that the deployment of the Turkish forces in Iraq present a similar threat to that posed by the Islamic State (IS).
“Any Turkish force must be treated as no less dangerous than Da’esh [IS] gangs, and Erdogan must understand that Iraq is not weak and can defend its land and its skies from any enemy trying to undermine it.”
He called on the Turkish forces currently in Iraqi territory to leave the country immediately. “Iraq's government should deal with these forces as invaders, and they should not remain in our territory.”
The presence of the Turkish troops in northern Iraq has been one of the controversial issues between Ankara and Baghdad over the past few years. In Dec. 2015, Turkey sent its forces to the town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, to train Sunni volunteers against the IS militants.
“Erdogan must be well aware that any attempt to violate Iraqi sovereignty will not be permitted, and we will defend our country as we defended and freed it from the terrorist gangs of [IS], especially since Erdogan and IS are two sides of the same coin,” al-Baeji added.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke to his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi in a telephone conversation, stating that Turkey respects the sovereignty of Iraq and will launch no military operations over the country’s border without the consent of its federal government.
Editing by John J. Catherine