Arab anger grows at Erdogan’s ‘military adventurism’ in Iraq

Arab anger grows at Erdogan’s ‘military adventurism’ in Iraq
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, visits Turkish troops at the border with Iraq in Hakkari province on June 19, 2020. (Turkish Defense Ministry via AP, Pool)
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Updated 21 June 2020

Arab anger grows at Erdogan’s ‘military adventurism’ in Iraq

Arab anger grows at Erdogan’s ‘military adventurism’ in Iraq
  • Turkish envoy in Baghdad summoned twice in two days to receive strongly worded protest
  • Reaction reflects widespread distrust of Turkey’s regional ambitions, analysts tell Arab News

JEDDAH: There was growing anger in the Arab world on Saturday at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “military adventurism” in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ankara claims to be targeting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants with Operation Claw-Eagle, its first official air and land offensive on Iraqi soil. It attacked Sinjar, the Qandil mountains, Karajak, Zap and Hakurk with aerial and ground operations involving F-16 fighter jets, missile launchers, heavy artillery and special forces units.

Baghdad condemned the invasion, and the Turkish ambassador to Iraq was summoned to the Foreign Ministry twice in two days to explain his country’s conduct. The envoy was handed a note of protest, in which Iraq accused Turkey of “violations of Iraqi sovereignty by bombing and attacking targets within our international borders.”

The UAE also criticized the Turkish attack, and Saudi Arabia condemned Turkish and Iranian aggression on Iraqi land, offering its support for Baghdad in measures to preserve its sovereignty, security and stability.

The criticism reflects growing Arab suspicion of Turkey’s wider regional ambitions, analyst Bill Park told Arab News.


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“The Arab reaction needs to be seen in this wider context — Turkey’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, its unwillingness to confront Iran, its meddling in Syria, its military relationship with Qatar and indeed Somalia, the stance it has taken in Libya and its approach to energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Park, a visiting research fellow at King’s College, London.

“This incursion will only feed those suspicions. Turkey is quite friendless now in the Arab world.”

Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said: “Ankara’s latest attacks in Iraq, driven by its ruling party, are yet another militarist adventure by a ruling party that appears to need to carry out a new military operation every month as part of an emerging trend that combines demagoguery at home and invasions abroad.

“In using disproportionate force and illegal operations, violating Iraq’s sovereignty, Ankara claims to be fighting ‘terrorists’ without any evidence that there have been recent terror attacks in Turkey or any threat from poverty-stricken areas like Sinjar.

“Iraqis appear to be paying the price of being defenseless against a government in Turkey that is obsessed with using its army to do everything and never seems to pursue peace or coexistence.”