Baghdad should only be happy with Turkey's help

Published 08.12.2015 02:09

Turkey's sending tanks and troops to Bashiqa, which is only 10 kilometers from DAESH positions, to provide military support for Iraqi troops in the fight against DAESH, is portrayed by Russia and Iran as a sign of Turkey's invading Iraq

Turkey has been helping Iraq and Iraqi Kurds in various ways since the day the rule of Saddam Hussein ended in that country. Turkey has always supported the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq under all circumstances even when its own security came under threat.

Even in the days of Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi Kurds were fighting against each other in bloody battles, Turkey managed to make peace between the Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani forces in 1996 and had the Ankara agreement signed with the help of the Americans and the British. Turkey set up a peace keeping force at the time from Iraqi Turkmens and Assyrians who were led by Turkish officers who established a buffer zone between the Irbil administration of Barzani and the Sulaymaniyah administration. At the time Turkey sent its jet fighters and tanks to break up the fight between Barzani and Talabani forces. Turkish jets also bombed the Talabani forces who were attacking Barzani troops with their PKK allies at the time.

At the time, Turkey established a base in an old airfield near Dohuk called Bamerni near the border and stationed 15 tanks and about 1,500 troops inside Iraq.

Later when Saddam was overthrown and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government was established uniting the Barzani and Talabani administrations, the Turkish base remained in the region.

In 2013 when DAESH forces took over Mosul and attacked Irbil and Kirkuk, Turkey along with the U.S. actively helped the Kurds to repulse the radical hordes.

Later Turkey made a deal with the Iraqis where the base was used to train Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces and Baghdad military and police units to combat DAESH in urban areas in three centers including Bashiqa near Mosul, which is now controlled by the Iraqi Kurds.

Recently then Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu visited Irbil and agreed with Iraqi Kurdish leaders to bolster the Turkish military presence in Bashiqa with tanks and troops as the area is only 10 kilometers from the DAESH lines. So last Friday Turkey sent more tanks and troops into Bashiqa.

The move was portrayed by some circles as if Turkey was invading Iraq with a massive troop presence. What Turkey was doing was taking precautions in view of the poor record of the Iraqi troops to defend themselves properly and their tendency to run off under DAESH attacks.

It is sad that the anti-Turkish propaganda led by Iran and Russia prompted the Baghdad administration to demand the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops. It is also sad that some people who oppose the government at home were also involved in this anti-Turkish campaign.

Turkey is not interested in power politics like the Russians and the Iranians who are everywhere from Syria to Iraq. Turkey does not intend to do anything that will hurt the delicate balances in the region, which is one thing that cannot be said about Moscow and Tehran. The Baghdad administration led by the Shiites is making a colossal mistake tagging along with the whims of Tehran. Sooner or later they will find out but let us hope it is not too late.

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