ISTANBUL/BAGHDAD President Tayyip Erdogan declared on Friday he would not bow to Iraqi demands he withdraw Turkish troops from a camp close to the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, and Baghdad stated it would ask the U.N. Security Council to order them to leave.
A row over the deployment has soured relations between Ankara and Baghdad, which denies possessing agreed to it. Ankara says the troops were sent as component of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State.
The newest comments indicated continuing tensions in spite of the Turkish prime minister’s office saying agreement was reached in talks with Iraq to deepen security cooperation and “reorganize” military personnel at the Bashiqa camp.
“There is no way we can withdraw our soldiers from northern Iraq now,” Erdogan told a news conference. “There was a deployment, not for combat, but to defend soldiers providing instruction there.”
“We will continue the education method decisively,” he stated.
Turkish military are assisting to train nearby Iraqi volunteers and Kurdish peshmerga who are preparing for a long-anticipated offensive to retake Mosul – a significant northern city seized by Islamic state over a year ago.
In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi instructed his foreign ministry to lodge a formal complaint at the U.N. Security Council over the presence of the Turkish forces, asking it to order Turkey to withdraw its troops from Iraq instantly.
Erdogan said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the complaint was not an “honest step”.
“They can resort to the U.N. Safety Council, that is their all-natural correct, but this is not an truthful step and we believe that Iraq’s actions are related to the latest developments in the area, that is, the steps taken by Russia and Iran.
“I believe that the Safety Council at the United Nations knows that this step is not sincere and will issue its decision accordingly,” he stated.
Earlier, Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged the government to show “no tolerance” for any infringement of the country’s sovereignty. Sistani’s spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Karbala’i, did not explicitly name Turkey.
Sistani also mentioned Iraq’s neighbors need to not send any troops to Iraq “below the pretext of fighting terrorism”, except with the approval of the Baghdad government.
“The Iraqi government is responsible for guarding Iraq’s sovereignty and have to not tolerate any side that infringes upon on it, what ever the justifications and necessities,” Karbalai’i stated in a weekly sermon.
Sistani urged citizens to show restraint toward foreign residents of Iraq, following Shi’ite paramilitary groups threatened to use force against Turkey and target its interests to force it to pull out.
In Ankara, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s workplace mentioned in a statement that Turkey had decided in talks with Iraqi officials to “reorganize” its military personnel at the Bashiqa camp
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and National Intelligence Agency (MIT) head Hakan Fidan visited Baghdad on Thursday for talks with Abadi on the situation.
“Taking into account the Iraqi government’s sensitivity, the selection was taken to reorganize the military personnel in the protection force at the Bashiqa camp,” Davutoglu’s workplace mentioned.
It did not say what the troop reorganization would involve, but said agreement was reached to start off perform on making mechanisms to deepen cooperation with the Iraqi government on security concerns.
Davutoglu stated on Wednesday the soldiers had been sent to northern Iraq right after a threat from Islamic State militants to Turkish military trainers in the region improved.
(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz, Ercan Gurses and by Tom Finn in DOHA Writing by Daren Butler Editing by Nick Tattersall, Ralph Boulton and Louise Ireland)