War within War – Iraqi PM: We don’t want to fight Turkey but we’re Ready

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

AFP Arabic reports that Iraqi PM Haydar al-Abadi said Tuesday that “We do not want a war with Turkey, and do not want a confrontation with Turkey, but if a confrontation takes place, we are ready for it.” He added that if Turkey “attacks Iraq, it will break up” because “Turkey does not have the ability to fight outside its borders.”

Iraq was alarmed by the announcement by Turkish military authorities that they are sending some 30 armored vehicles and tanks and artillery pieces down to the Turkey-Iraqi border.

Al-Abadi said, “we fear that a reckless step may be taken.” He said he hoped it would not take place, not because he feared such a step itself but because he feared the reaction. He called any such move “stupid.”

There are also hundreds of Turkish troops inside Iraq at Bashiqa near Mosul, who are training Sunni militiamen. Turkey had claimed Mosul in the aftermath of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire but the British wanted it for their new colony of Iraq, and the British prevailed. Turkey is a Sunni-majority country and Iraq is a Shiite-majority country– though that statistic for Iraq only really began to matter politically with the 2005 elections. Turkey feels protective of Mosul Sunni Muslims, who are coming back under the rule of Baghdad.

Iraq demands that the Turkish troops withdraw from the country, terming them “occupation forces.”

Despite al-Abadi’s bluster, in fact Turkey is the country with the big, well-trained and well-equipped NATO army. Iraqi’s army collapsed in 2014 and has only partially been rebuilt; it is moreover bogged down in an epochal fight with Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) which is notorious for its tactical suicide-bombings and booby traps.

At the same news conference, al-Abadi indicated that the shaping operations just outside Mosul have now apparently been completed and the Iraqi army’s Ninth Division or counter-terrorism brigades have now entered the city of Mosul itself. It will, however, be a long slog through back alleys with a constant threat of ninja suicide bombers dropping into the alley or of buildings being booby-trapped with trip wires.

I know that Secretary of State John Kerry is more or less a lame duck, but I can’t understand why he isn’t mediating this Baghdad-Ankara saber-rattling, which can only benefit the Daesh terrorists.


Related video:

Press TV: ” Turkey deploys military vehicles to border with Iraq”

7 Responses

  1. I can’t understand why he isn’t mediating this Baghdad-Ankara saber-rattling, which can only benefit the Daesh terrorists. Perhaps because he’s too busy gathering up compliments and awards, like the Tipperary International Peace Award, and the Chatham House Prize, to have time for more than the expression of ‘serious concern’. Also he has himself confessed that the ’embarrassing’ US election has made the job harder, so better perhaps to look for his carpet slippers and leave all that for his successor.

    • Another example of people over estimating the power of the US. This would be a disaster for US foreign policy. You think that the US isn’t furiously trying to smooth the waters? Just a reminder. Erdogan has made it a habit of ignoring US entreaties, Iraq refused to agree to a status of forces agreement and only let US advisers back in when the situation was dire, and Maliki totally ignored our advice on being more inclusive. When are people going to learn about the importance of nationalism in international relations?

  2. I just don’t understand why, after all these years, the people still invest the US with magical powers to make the bad things stop happening.

    Maybe John Kerry has no cards to play. All of America’s “allies” in the ME are seemingly on a binge of self-destruction, and so it must be America’s job to stop them from continuing to self-destruct themselves.

    Perhaps America needs to step out, not in. Staying in only seems to prolong the agony, and just gives America’s allies excuses for their own bad behavior and then someone to blame after it all turns to S**t.

    • Left wing ideologues think that the US is so powerful that we are responsible for all the bad things others do while right wing ideologues think we can impose our will whenever we want and if bad things happen from out standpoint, it was just a lack of will by our government. After Vietnam and then Iraq you would think people would have learned.

    • The majority of people don’t think that “the US has magical powers to make the bad things stop.” They know that the US is behind the majority of the bad things that have been happening.

      • You have just confirmed Gary Page’s excellent observation regarding certain ideologues’ simplistic notion that the US is responsible for all the bad things others do. Your comment is exhibit No. 1 in the gallery of ahistorical, unsubstantiated statements based on the “gut” rather than on evidence.

      • Personally, from my rather limited view, the bad things we do in the Middle East seem most of the time to be done on behalf of our ‘clients’ in the area.

        It’s a fool’s game, and the US is the fool, most of the time.

        The best part is when the ‘clients’ then blame us for all the trouble we’ve caused, as we’ve pursued policy goals on their behalf that much of the time they won’t even acknowledge complicity in.

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