As Erdogan deploys tanks near border, Iraq warns Turkey will be treated ‘as an enemy’

by WorldTribune Staff, November 4, 2016

Iraq’s prime minister warned Turkey of a possible confrontation after Turkish tanks, artillery and troops were deployed near the Iraqi border.

“We do not want war with Turkey, and we do not want a confrontation with Turkey,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Iraqi state TV on Nov. 3. “But if a confrontation happens, we are ready for it. We will consider [Turkey] an enemy, and we will deal with it as an enemy.”

Turkey has deployed tanks and artillery near Iraq's northern border. /Reuters
Turkey has deployed tanks and artillery near Iraq’s northern border. /Reuters

Turkey scoffed at Abadi’s warning, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying: “If you have the strength, why did you surrender Mosul to terror organizations? If you are so strong, why has the PKK occupied your lands for years? You cannot even fight against a terror organization. You are weak.”

Turkey also continues to ignore Abadi’s demands to withdraw a contingent of about 500 troops near the town of Bashiqa, about 10 miles north of Mosul. The Turkish troops have been training local tribes that Turkey wants to participate in the occupation of Mosul.

Abadi also warned Turkey over its buildup at Iraq’s northern border and threats to intervene if Shia Popular Mobilization Units, which are part of the Iraqi Security Forces, move to take Tal Afar to the west of Mosul.

U.S. officials have said Iraq-Turkey tensions could imperil the Mosul offensive and make governing in its aftermath a difficult task. The local population is a mix of Sunni, Shia, Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidis, Shabaks and Assyrians.

Meanwhile, Kurdish Peshmerga forces were consolidating their positions in support of the Iraqi advance into Mosul, the Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported.

“The Peshmerga have stopped now and carried out their plans. We are completing the rest of the plan from our fronts,” Abdul Ghani Assadi, a commander of Iraq’s counter terror units, was quoted by Rudaw as saying.

Under the plan approved by Abadi, Kurdish forces are not to enter Mosul in order to avoid inflaming sectarian tensions.