10/12/2016, 11.25
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High tension between Ankara and Baghdad: Iraqi Prime Minister, Erdogan attacking Mosul

The international meeting of Ulemas, warns al-Abadi. The Turkish army at Baashika in Iraqi territory, in violation of international law. Erdogan sees the division between Sunnis and Shiites pretext for "foreign intervention" in the Middle East.


Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The words uttered yesterday by President on Turkish Erdogan against Iraqi in his speech in front of the 7th International Conference of the Islamic Council in Eurasia have left all participants astounded.

At one point the Turkish president threateningly addressed Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi – who was absent – and said quote: "Respect your limits." This language - uncommon within diplomatic circles and among heads of state - was used in front of many media, at the International Meeting of Islamic scholars (Ulema) who Turkey has attempted for years to gather into one organization without much success. This year the meeting was held in Istanbul from 11 to 14 October.

Erdogan's wrath was unleashed in response to criticism from the Iraqi Prime Minister of the Turkish military incursion in Baashika, in northern Iraq, and its plans for the liberation of Mosul. Al-Abadi said that "the Turkish army is not wanted and must withdraw from Iraqi territory". Erdogan shot back yesterday saying: "The Turkish army will not take instructions from the Head of the Iraqi government and we will continue our operations in Baashika".

Thus it became clear that the Turkish military action in Baashika takes place without permission of the Iraqi government and in complete violation of international law.

"Some countries," Erdogan continued, "come from thousands of kilometers to intervene in Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world where there are de fact threats against them, while Turkey, which has a border extending 911 km with Syria and 350 km with Iraq is told that it is not entitled to take action to address the threat. We will never accept this twisted logic".

"The fitna [division between the Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects] - said Erdogan - creates an excuse for foreign intervention and this game has been used in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and recently in Turkey." For Erdogan the "game" - as he called it - of the Western powers is a plot that creates sectarian divisions in Islam. For the Turkish president "the Islamic world" is "under the yoke (of the threat) under the pretext of terrorism."

Speaking then of terrorism and its victims, Erdogan said: "The victims of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa are Muslim, as are those Muslims who commit such actions against Muslims." Then he asked everyone: "Have you ever heard of Christian terrorism or Jewish terrorism, atheist or Buddhist terrorism? Certainly not, you've never heard of it. Because any terrorist action is classified as religious only when those who commit such actions are Muslims”.

The rhetoric against terrorism and against the "plots" of the West towards Islam hides - in fact - Turkey's fear that Mosul, once liberated, could become a member of the Kurdish autonomous region. This would be unpopular in Ankara because it would strengthen and give new hope for autonomy to the Kurds in Turkey.

Speaking on the issue, the spokesman of the US State Department John Kirby said that "Turkish forces" in Iraq "are not part of the international coalition" and the controversy concerning Baashika "must be resolved by the Turkish and Iraqi governments". (PB)

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