Erdoğan: Turkey Has Right to Combat Threats in Syria and Iraq
President Tayyip Erdoğan warned Iraq’s prime minister he should “know his limits” after he criticized Turkey’s military presence there and said the Turkish army, shaken by a failed coup bid, had not lost so much standing as to take orders from him.
NATO member Turkey shares a 1,200 km (750-mile) border with Syria and Iraq and faces threats from Islamic State militants in both. But it is concerned that international efforts to destroy the radical Islamists will leave new dangers in their wake.
The Turkish army, its senior ranks purged following a failed military attempt to overthrow Erdogan in July, launched an incursion into Syria in August to push back Islamic State and prevent U.S.-backed Kurdish militia fighters from seizing territory. Ankara is wary of Washington’s support for what it sees as a hostile Syrian Kurdish force.
Erdoğan suggested Turkey could take a similar attitude in Iraq, where expectations are growing of an assault to drive Islamic State out of the northern city of Mosul.
“We will approach the operation in Iraq, the operation that will be in Mosul soon, with the same attitude,” Erdogan told a meeting of Islamic leaders in Istanbul in televised comments.
“Turkey cannot intervene against the threats right next to it? We will never accept this … We don’t need permission for this, and we don’t plan on getting it.”
Turkey’s parliament voted two weeks ago to extend the deployment of an estimated 2,000 troops across northern Iraq by a year to combat “terrorist organizations” – a wording broad enough to refer to Kurdish militants as well as Islamic State.
Iraq condemned the vote, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Turkey risked triggering a regional war. His government has requested an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the issue, and both countries have summoned each other’s ambassadors in a mounting diplomatic stand-off.
“The Iraqi prime minister is insulting me, first know your limits,” Erdoğan said.
“Iraq had certain requests from us regarding Bashiqa, and now they are telling us to leave. But the Turkish army has not lost so much standing as to take orders from you. ”
Turkey argues that involving Shi’ite militias in a drive to expel Islamic State from Mosul will not bring peace