|Iraq steps us its rhetoric on Turkey||
The recent violation of Turkish warplanes into Iraqi airspace generated swift criticism inside Iraq, especially from members of the Iraqi parliament’s committee on defense and security. The incident has opened up a new chapter in the war of words between Turkey and Iraq.
Relations between the two neighboring countries have been strained due to Ankara’s refusal to extradite Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tariq al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death in absentia on terror charges by an Iraqi court. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s surprise visit to the Iraqi semi-autonomous Kurdistan region was also met with ire in Baghdad.
However, observers describe Turkey’s support for the extremist groups inside Iraq and Syria as the main reason for cooling of relations between the two countries. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric about change, coupled with his arming of Syrian rebels, has disappointed the Arab street. Turkey maintains its support for Sunnis in Iraq and Salafis in Syria, demonstrating its sectarian plans for the region.
According to the Turkish parliament, the military is authorized to conduct operations inside Iraq’s airspace under the pretext of targeting hideouts of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants. These operations have intensified after the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq, which is not yet capable of securing its airspace. Turkey was even pulling the same trick in the time of Saddam Hussein.
Turkey also serves as a conduit for the transfer of terrorist groups to Syria and Iraq. Terrorist elements from various countries including Pakistan, Chechnya, Morocco, and Tunisia are infiltrating into Syria and Iraq in huge numbers. This has created many security challenges for the central government in Baghdad and is regarded as one of the main points of dispute between Iraq and Turkey.
Turkey must extradite the fugitive vice-president and stop fueling sectarian conflict in Iraq. Turkish officials should also change their approach towards the political developments in the region. Otherwise, the prospect of Ankara’s relations with the Arab world, especially with Iraq, may become all the more grim.
Seyyed Asadollah Athari is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran and an expert on Turkey.
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|Last Updated on 02 October 2012 19:21|