In the past Turkish leaders and Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have traded accusations over the presence of Turkish forces in the north of Mosul to fight Daesh terrorists, but that is over and done with now. These days there is a spring atmosphere between Ankara and Baghdad and Turkey is preparing to welcome Abadi in the Turkish capital today.
Masoud Barzani's obstinacy to call for an illegal referendum for Kurdish independence in the north of Iraq and carry out his threat despite strong warnings from Turkey, Iran and Iraq has created strong cooperation between the three neighbors. Turkey and Iran support the territorial integrity of Iraq and want the country remain intact. They have tried hard to dissuade Barzani from this suicidal move but failed.
Turkey is now fully cooperating with the Abadi administration as it now regards Baghdad to be in charge of the whole of the country, including the northern provinces that were under Kurdish control. Thus when Iraq announced tough sanctions against Barzani, Turkey and Iran followed course. They supported Baghdad's move to close the airspace of the northern Iraqi provinces to air traffic and thus cripple air transportation to and from the Kurdish areas.
Turkey is going as far as Iraq when it comes to punishing Barzani. Turkey has been more than happy to see the Iraqi army led by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU or Hashd al-Shaabi) smash their way into Kirkuk thus pushing not only the peshmerga out of the city but also the PKK terrorists who are waging a secessionist war against Turkey. Turkey is also happy that the Iraqi army has pushed the PKK out of Sinjar and other disputed areas as well as the notorious Mahmour Camp, which had turned into a PKK base.
Turkey is aware that there is an ongoing struggle between the United States and Iran for dominance in Iraq and thus can be a balancing factor that will help Abadi even the scales in a delicate power game in Baghdad.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told Abadi that the Popular Mobilization Units should be disbanded. The entity, which is composed of Iraq's volunteers, is an umbrella group that holds up to 40 military brigades. The fighters played a game-changing role in the fight against Daesh and the Iraqi government identifies them as part of the military. However, Tillerson has caused outrage by criticizing the volunteer fighters.
The units have been groomed into a war-hardened army by Iranian officers. Abadi has told Tillerson this force is an Iraqi institution and has official status. It is not a terrorist outfit.
Isn't it strange that the Americans feel no shame when they deal with Kurdish militants that have links to the PKK terrorist group in northern Syria and treat them like their allies and yet when it comes to a force close to Iran they raise hell in Iraq?
Turkey will of course ask Prime Minister Abadi to safeguard the rights of the Turkmens of Iraq. Ankara will seek assurances that the Turkmens who were displaced and pushed out of Kirkuk by the Barzani regime will return to their homes and the old demographic status of the city will be restored. Turkey also wants safety for the Turkmens scattered in the disputed territories of the region from Tal Afar to Tuzhurmatu. Ankara will also seek Abadi to make amends with the Sunni Arabs so that the past conflicts between the Shiites and the Sunnis are buried in the sand of the Iraqi desert.
It is clear that the current constitution of Iraq does not create a just and peaceful environment and it has been imposed on the Arabs by the Kurds and the Americans. This constitution should be changed to facilitate an environment in Iraq where Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds live in harmony and coexist.
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