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Analysts: Intrusion in Iraq shows Turkey’s intention to redraw Middle East

December 10, 2015, 18:51 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
President of Iraq'a northern Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

President of Iraq'a northern Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

© AP Photo/Hakan Goktepe, Prime Minister's Press Service, Pool

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. Effective strikes by Russia’s air and space group in Syria against the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State have upset the Turkish leadership’s plans in Syria, so Ankara is now trying to compensate for this defeat with intrusion in Iraq in an attempt to lay hands on part of its territory, polled analysts have told TASS.

In the first days of December Turkey, without asking Baghdad for permission, moved one of its military units, including several dozen tanks and other armoured vehicles, into northern Iraq. The operation had artillery support. The Turkish military were deployed near the city of Mosul, which is considered as the Islamic State’s main stronghold in Iraq. In response to strong protests over the violation of the state border and Baghdad’s appeal to the UN Security Council for assistance Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday told the Al-Jazeera television network the Turkish troops had been moved to Iraq at the request of Iraq’s prime minister, made back in 2014.

Iraq at Tuesday’s meeting of the UN Security Council insisted on the immediate removal of Turkish troops from its territory. A number of states, including Russia, supported the demand. However, as Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, NATO countries "by virtue of their notorious bloc solidarity refrained from any critical comments addressed to Ankara, which crudely violated international law."

"Effective strikes by Russia’s air group have upset Ankara’s attempts to intrude into northern Syria with the aim to create a so-called buffer zone in that area and isolate Syrian Kurds," the leading research fellow of the institute of the world economy and international relations IMEMO and the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Ivanov, told TASS. "After that Turkish troops intruded into Iraq. Erdogan and his entourage claim that Iraq’s northern Nineveh province was illegally annexed from Turkey in 1920 by the countries that emerged the winners in World War I. Using the weakness of the central Iraqi authorities and the country’s breakup into three parts (Shiite South, Sunni North, and Kurdish Centre) the Turkish authorities will apparently be trying to restore ‘historical justice’," Ivanov said.

Ankara relies on mutually beneficial relations with the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan, in particular, Masoud Barzani. With Barzani’s support the Turkish Air Force in July 2015 resumed missile and bombing raids and artillery bombardments of the bases and camps of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan, Ivanov said.

Annexing part of Iraq’s territory is one of Ankara’s aims. Energy interests are reason. Mosul province boasts rich hydrocarbon reserves. It lies on one of the main routes of delivering crude oil and oil products to Turkey.

"In an attempt to make this energy supply route secure after these lands have been cleared of Islamic State militants the Turkish authorities may stage a referendum on the region’s new status with reliance on the Turkomans (who number more than one million) and friendly Kurds (Barzan tribe) and to create a new federation member, identical to Iraqi Kurdistan," Ivanov believes. In his opinion Turkey’s actions may redraw borders in the Middle East and create another hotbed of war in the region.

"The Turkish contingent’s emergence in the area of Mosul is tantamount to a declaration of intent to put the region under control," the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, told TASS.

"Erdogan’s plans are anyone’s guess. He will pull the troops back from Iraq, if he needs. Or he may drastically build up the strength of Turkish troops in the zone of Ankara’s strategic interests in the north of Iraq. He is an unpredictable adventurer. He is blackmailing the European Union with flows of illegal migrants. He frames NATO and lures the alliance into a conflict with Moscow. He quarrels with Tehran, Damascus and Baghdad. One can expect anything of him. Without heavy international political pressures Erdogan will continue to act with impunity," Satanovsky warned.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors