Turkey’s Military Intervention in Iraq Right or Wrong? -By Abdur Rahman Fuad
After the failed coup attempt in Turkey, the success of the Turkish military campaign “Operation Euphrates Shield” aiming at the liberation of many Syrian territories free from ISISthat adjacent to Turkey.Turkey’s parliament, October 1, approved a one-year extension of its mandate to use Turkish troops in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The extension was adopted with an overwhelming majority, only the leftist and pro-Kurdish HDP opposing the mandate. President Erdogan addressed the parliament during its opening session, praised Turkish military efforts and warned both the government of Iraq and western allies that Turkey cannot be left off the table. For the same question, the possibility of a military operation to liberate the Mosul , a Northern Iraqi city which is controlled by “ISIS”(in locals DAEª). Why this extension? Because we can judge this from Syria(Jarablus) side.The Syrian mans at now are happy for to return their home after Jarablus free from ISIS. For this act, the country has decided to operation in Iraq and the extension was passed.Criticized after extension and sending troops in Iraq by Ebadi, than president of Turkey to Ebadi-“You are not my interlocutor. You are not at my level. You are not my equivalent. You are not of the same quality as me. Also said-“Your screaming and shouting in Iraq is of no importance to us,” he said in a speech to Muslim religious leaders from the Balkans and Central Asia in Istanbul. “You should know that we will go our own way.”(Bora B., AL-Zajeera News:14.12.2016)But in here, some questions raised about the possibilities of Turkish intervention(according to media) and the challenges that will stand in its way, and whether the Turkish intervention will marginal to play only a secondary role, or will it heavily get involved and change the balance of power. Before to go in discuss, we will try to know shortly some historical point on Turkey-Iraq to understand this topics.
Geografically,there are historical ties between Iraq and Turkey for thousands of years. Iraq has witnessed about the conflict of Byzantine-Persian, where the Byzantine Empire controlled territories of Turkey and the Levant, other side, Persian controlled and occupied Iraq. These historical facts formed some sort of different kinds of relationships and communications that was convertion into Islam from two sides.
This relationship evolved under the Islamic Caliphate; since Iraq and a significant part of Turkey was under the Umayyad control (662-750 AD) and the Abbasid (750-1517 AD). Then, the Caliphate was moved to Turkey under the reign of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923 AD) which ruled Turkey, and expanded to control most of the Arab countries, including Iraq, for centuries. In another side, The ‘school of Hanafe’ was established in Iraq and founder Imam Abu Hanifa buried in Northern-Iraq.In fact, belonging to the same figure and Imam constitutes a strong link between the two countries.
Economically, the Iraqi market is heavily dependent on imported goods from other countries, on top of which is Turkey. Iraq comes on top of the list of the Turkish neighbors in terms of imports to the extent that it claims about 50% of Turkey’s exports to 8 neighboring countries in 2015. The Turkish exports to Iraq amounted to more than a billion dollars, while its exports to its neighboring countries amounted to about 930 million dollars, according to the Iraqi Al-Sabah Newspaper. Taken from- (Fiker Center for Studies, Bairut-Lebanon based)
Possibilities of Turkish Intervention in Iraq
It seems that Turkey is serious about intervention in the case of Mosul in particular, especially after its recent successful intervention in Syria. This seriousness is reflected in the successive speeches of President Erdogan and other Turkish officials, which are welcomed by Iraqi Sunnis in particular since they are the most affected party by the Iranian and ISIS activities, which left them no place for living in peace and security due to the fact that they are between the hammer of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the anvil of ISIS.
One of the possibility, helps to Turkey in its plans to liberate Mosul is that it shares with Iraq an estimated 331 km (206 miles) of borders, namely the Kurdish Erbil and Dohuk Provinces which fall within the Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Arab Nineveh Province which is controlled by ISIS. This makes Turkey more likely to intervene, more than others and impose its presence on the political scene in Iraq.
The presence of Turkish troops in Iraq, specifically in Mosul, in “Zilkan” camp near the town of Bashiqa North-East of Mosul. The troops are in about three regiments, each one is a hundred and fifty soldiers, armed with 20 tanks. That means Turkey is well-aware of the political and military geography of Mosul and has thoroughly studied the possibility and benefits of a military intervention there.
The relationship of Turkey and Kurdistan, which welcomes any Turkish intervention in Iraq, facilitates Turkey’s intervention and provides it with all the necessary information, logistical, and technical support.
Turkey did qualify a Sunni force affiliated to the former Nineveh Governor Atheel Al-Nujaifi in terms of training, arms, and logistical and technical support. This means that there are Iraqi forces that are willing to support it.
The historical legacy of Mosul, since Turkey regards Mosul, the center of Nineveh Governorate, a part of its territories that it lost to Britain in a treaty signed in 1926 although it was formerly part of Turkey under the reign of the Ottoman Empire for centuries.
The US approval of Turkish intervention in Mosul. Currently, there are discussions between Iraqi and US officials in order to coordinate the Turkish intervention so that it would be subject to the consent of the Iraqi Government. It is expected that the Turkish President will discuss, during his stay in Washington, this file with the US officials.
Challenges for the intervention in Mosul
The Iraqi State, along with the PMF, and its militias affiliated with Iran, seem like different entities but they all answer to Iran, which controls the official decisions of Iraq and its resources, and attempts to further enhance this authority. Due to the dispute between the two countries, Iran does not accept Turkish intervention in Iraq.
US continueously wants to involved with Turkey when operation in continuous. At now a camp of American forces lived in Qayyarah region. From there to return in again battle feild with military bases and other economic projects. But that involvement has its benefits both before and after the battle. France is seeking to dominate the oil-rich Nineveh Plains under the pretext of protecting Christians while establishing a territory for them.
More months after failed coup attept on 15th july 2016, Turkey has been suffering a complex situation in internal and external subject, especially in internal issues. We know that, big challenge for Turkey new plan and build a new structure in the field of military, education,justice and security as well as others. PKK is the continue important issue for the country after the failed coup and to stand on those field. This would be make Turkey hesitate before taking any external step and that will contribute to the dispersal of its capabilities and confronting more than one enemy at one time.
ISIS can everything to liberate and to keep the Mosul in their hand. Because they backed from Jarablus after “Operation Euphrates Shield” in Syria by the Turkish army. Therefore, it will try to avenge any forces trying to force it out of its key stronghold in Iraq, which is Mosul. In case Turkey proceeds with it, ISIS would take the fight inside Turkey through suicide attacks. I think, they can shift and coalition with PKK(inside in Turkey) terrorist for the internal pressure for Turkey as to kept busy Turkey rather then in extarnal affairs especially for Mosul. Noteworthy, ISIS has claimed different attacks in Turkey, as if it was sending messages to the Turkish Government to remind it of the danger of a confronting ISIS.
Turkey is concerned that once ISIL fighters are pushed out of Mosul, the government in Baghdad will make it difficult for Sunni residents of the city to live there. Erdogan previously said that Mosul, which was seized by ISIL two years ago, belongs to “its Sunni residents”.After Mosul is recaptured, Erdogan added, “only Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and Sunni Kurds should remain there”. His comments prompted the government-backed Shia militias, known as the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), to issue a statement condemning Erdogan’s “racist proposal to change Mosul’s demographics”. On the other side,National Mobilization forces (NMF) of Iraq not depended on Iraqi government because, the government does not like them any more. This can be a big obstacle for Turkey as example when go to operation, if the Iraqi government help them with logistic support,this can be a stand confusing issue by the name operation.
The Turkman livedin Iraq since supported by Turkey government over the last 10 years. Turkey so thaughtful of their weak position and they did not keetyet any power to help turkey government as a neighbour. Another side, the Shiite Turkman loyal to Iraqi and Irani governments and also can be found in Mosul. Their stand with those government can be through the Turkish government into confusion cases.
Operation from Possibile/PositiveSide
Some positive points for Turkey if they do not like to go in direct action in Mosul as they did in Syria. The Iraqi government gave a assuarencein 2014 to operation, not operation in full phaseas Turkish troops sometimes teach and help to Iraqi souldier in the war field against ISIS. But at now Abadi in lier side. Also it’s can be a game plan of America and Iran as well as we heared from something american side by name of Iraqi sovereignty that it said. After this circumastences, Parliament passed this bill as re-new Turkey soldier stay in Iraq till to september 2017. Here, I will discuss something about operation possibilities. Before I can say it, only the goal of Turkey in Mosul, protect the reigon and the Turkmen from ISIS and to build a peaceful area.
The goal of this strike is getting mass media attention and sending a message to the world that it is still strong, that the coup attempt didn’t affect it, and that the army is an army of liberation and arduous tasks and there is no fear of it inside Turkey, which is a message for the Turkish people to boost its confidence in the government.
Turkey sends troops into Mosul according to a strategic plan and economic and geographic interests, since Turkey justifies its intervention with the Agreement concluded with Britain in 1926, which gives Turkey, as per the Turkish claims, the right to intervene in Iraq to protect the Turkmans, for an oil share, so it won’t withdraw from Mosul after liberation, and would need military bases in Mosul, and alliances with local and even international powers.
Turkey may take a step ahead of all the parties and get its troops inside Mosul quickly and imposes its presence on the ground, then starts negotiations, and the strong negotiator is the one controlling the land.
Turkey sends troops with specific and clear understandings with the US, France, and Iran, according to which it takes a share of Mosul and leaves Nineveh Plains to France, other parts to the PMF and the Iraqi Government, the other parts to the US.
Turkey is already hosting 3 million refugees. Turkey simply cannot absorb another wave of refugees, so the Turkish government and military need to take necessary precautions to make sure residents of Mosul can stay in Mosul after ISIL is ousted from their city. But america imagine that, Turkey tring to create a power house for Sunni in area.
The Mosul and it’s impact how canbe through in actors eyes who has been playing a key role in the conflict area.There is no right and wrong in northern Iraq at the moment and what happens to Mosul thats we do not know in this stage. May be from one side it’s for domino, from another side protect sovereignty and territorial integrity and self-defence. Therefore, the Arab countries looking forward to and see Turkey’s role to change and a breakthrough from giant hands.The West should shows respect to powerful states and that should be remembered by Turkey today, particularly since it enjoys good reputation in the Arab world thanks to its humanitarian work in Syria and Iraq, in addition to the strategic relations and international alliances. Invitation for all to wait and see.
Abdur Rahman Fuad is studying Master’s at Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey.