Iraq appeals for US help in Turkey row

Iraq appeals for US help in Turkey row
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 23 August 2020

Iraq appeals for US help in Turkey row

Iraq appeals for US help in Turkey row
  • Turkish strikes are violation of sovereignty, warns foreign minister

ISTANBUL: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has described Turkish attacks on Iraqi soil as “unacceptable” and urged the US to resolve the dispute in a meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Ankara and Baghdad have been negotiating since mid-June to solve the dispute over Turkish offensives in Kurdistan and other disputed territories. However, alienating Turkey could pose an economic threat to Iraq as Ankara is a key trading partner.

The Iraqi constitution bans the use of its territory to attack neighboring countries.

“The only potential US card to play is the personal relationship between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He could ask Ankara to temporarily halt its cross-border activities,” Joe Macaron, a Middle East foreign policy analyst at the Arab Center, told Arab News.

Macaron doubts that the US will impose sanctions or threaten Erdogan to achieve this objective.

On Aug. 11 a Turkish drone strike in northeastern Iraq killed two Iraqi border guards and the driver of their vehicle. The Iraqi military called it “flagrant aggression”.

The drone attack coincided with alleged meetings of Iraqi high-ranking officials with members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who are based in northern Iraq.

Baghdad canceled a Turkish ministerial visit and summoned the Turkish ambassador in response to the strike.

The Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior also urged Turkey and the PKK to continue fighting outside Iraq.

Macaron said there is an informal meeting between Turkey, Iran and the Kurdistan Regional Government against the PKK in northern Iraq. He added that there is little the US can do on an issue that is viewed as low-priority.

FASTFACT

Ankara and Baghdad have been negotiating since mid-June to solve the dispute over Turkish offensives in Kurdistan and other disputed territories.

“Turkey has military bases inside the Iraqi border and there are several pending challenges between Ankara and Baghdad, including the water quota in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers,” he said.

During the 1990s Turkey launched several military incursions into northern Iraq and established a dozen military bases in the region.

Macaron says the success of any mediation will require Arab pressure on the US to become involved.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein also urged his Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi and Kuwaiti counterparts, as well as the Arab League, for diplomatic backing to confront Ankara and force it to “pull out its troops who have infiltrated Iraq.”

France also criticized Turkey’s strikes in the region and emphasized Iraqi sovereignty in a statement.

However, Ankara has accused Iraq of “turning a blind eye to the presence of PKK terrorists on its soil.”

Aaron Stein, director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the US supports Turkey’s right to strike against PKK in northern Iraq and has a mechanism to deconflict the two countries’ operations.

"That deconfliction doesn’t always work well, but I don’t see US policy changing. Turkish strikes are making US partner operations in the north more difficult, but I don’t see how policy will change because of that fact," he told Arab News.

 


Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
Updated 45 min 55 sec ago

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
  • The 3 were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday and arrived in Bahrain via Oman
  • They were arrested while fishing, Bahrain says they were in territorial waters

DUBAI: Three Bahrainis detained by Qatar have arrived back in the kingdom after Manama helped to extradite their release, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.
Bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad, his friend Mohammed Al-Dossari and fisherman Habib Abbas were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday after they were arrested by Qatari coast and border security while fishing at sea, in two separate incidents. Bahrain said that the three citizens were in the country’s territorial waters.
The three men thanked Bahrain’s King Hamad and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad for the attention and care that they had received, which they said had a great impact on their release and return.
They also thanked the interior ministry, headed by Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah, and the foreign ministry, headed by Abdullatif Al-Zayani, for their efforts and the measures that contributed to their safe return.
The men said that they were proud to see the “patriotic interest they received for their cause,” both from the government and the Bahraini people.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “profound thanks and gratitude to Oman for the efforts made by the authorities in the sultanate to coordinate and follow up on the release of Bahraini citizens detained in Qatar and to facilitate their return to Bahrain.”
The three arrived in Oman on Thursday following their release, the kingdom’s embassy in Muscat confirmed.
The ministry said that the release of the citizens by Qatar was “a step that reflects the spirit required toward resolving the outstanding issues between the two countries in order to enhance the process of cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”
The statement also said that Bahrain hoped that Qatar would release Asian sailors who work on Bahraini fishing vessels, and take into account their humanitarian situation.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, ended a three-year rift with Qatar on Jan. 5 following a GCC summit in the historic city of AlUla, formally restoring diplomatic relations and opening their land, sea and air borders.