Turkish-Iraqi Relations and #PKK
Ankara and Baghdad have started a new era in their relations.
Ankara backed Baghdad in its rejection of the Kurdish referendum. Then, It had strategic understandings with Baghdad before the latter begun its military operation to liberate Mosul city from ISIS. In addition, Turkey did not oppose the entrance of the Iraqi army to control Kirkuk city.
Many experts thought that these two neighboring countries would have more peaceful interactions in the future. However, the geopolitical interests always contribute to shaping the nature of changes occurring in the behavior of the nations. Thus, Turkey has surprised all observers by saying that it has a plan to fight the PKK in Mosul city of Iraq.
After ISIS had control of this significant city, the PKK came to Sinjar to protect its citizens, who are from the Yazidi minority. The majority of those innocent people had been taken as hostages by the terrorists. During that time, there was no real force on the ground to save them except the PKK.
Therefore, the PKK spread its fighters in that place for the first time. The residents of Sinjar welcomed the PKK and then supported it. It is now more popular among them. Thus, Turkey has decided to wage a war against the PKK in Mosul and even in Kirkuk. It alleges that the PKK has become exist outside Qandil mountains. This forms a real threat to the national security in Turkey, according to what the Turkish president, Rajab Tayib Erdogan, announced on many occasions.
Turkey asserted that it would start its operation against the PKK after the next Iraqi election, scheduled on 12 May 2018. Turkish politicians announced that they have already agreed with their Iraqi counterparts upon this project. Thus, some experts hinted that Turkey might have succeeded in persuading the Iraqi PM, Haidar Al-Abadi, that it will support him in his attempt to stay in his position as PM for the second time, in case he supports Turkey in its battle against the PKK.
In return, Very few Iraqi writers criticized this allegation, saying that the PKK was an Iraqi ally in the fight against IS. While Turkey was the country that aided ISIS by various means, the PKK was the power that lost many souls to liberate Sinjar district from the terrorists. Thus, it is not logic for the Iraqi government to turn its back on this major partnership with the PKK. In addition, Abadi can’t make such a mistake as he knows that it will destroy all the positive things he has achieved in the past years.
As well, the political analysts affirmed that Turkey still politically behaves in a way that harms the Iraqi interests. At least, It has not yet withdrawn its troops from Bashiqa Camp, located in Mosul. Turkey was declaring that it sent its troops to that camp to counter ISIS. Now, this terrorist organization has been defeated in Mosul, and there is no need for any Turkish soldier to stay in Iraq. Therefore, Turkey has no reason to continue surviving there. In the eyes of many experts, the presence of the Turkish forces is regarded as a real violation of the Iraqi sovereignty.
Here, it is important to mention that some researchers around the world are accusing Turkey of using the ISIS fighters, who fled Iraq, in its war that is now waging in Afrin against the Kurds of Syria.
Patrick Cockburn, the journalist focusing on the Middle East affairs, wrote in the Independent: ” ISIS fighters are joining the FSA (The Free Syrian Army) and Turkish-army invasion force because they are put under pressure from the Turkish authorities. From the point of view of Turkey, the recruitment of former Isis combatants means that it can draw on a large pool of professional and experienced soldiers”
For sure, this indication can’t be a source of reassuring to the Iraqi side. Such a policy will contribute to increasing the fears of Baghdad that Ankara might exploit the card of ISIS again for geopolitical motives. Therefore, it is not wise to sacrifice those who are opposing the return of ISIS to the Iraqi soil. Thus, the PKK will stay an essential player for the Iraqi interests in this complicated game.
Later, the Iraqi side replied by emphasizing its denial to the Turkish operation in Iraq. And, it promised to help Turkey in finding a peaceful way to solve this problem.
Iraq knows well that if Turkey enters into Mosul city by force, this will lead to many geopolitical consequences. The Popular Crowd Units, The PKK, and Iran will not allow Turkey to fulfill its dreams of dominating this rich area. This will result in many wars that Turkey can’t bear its consequences.
Finally, Iraq must convince Turkey that security has become a regional matter. Either we all feel secured or no one will be safe from the threats. Iraq must urge the PKK to remove from Mosul and Kirkuk. Then, the UN must take its part in solving this problem. This is one of the best solutions available to all of them.
Originally published in http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=87819