At UN, Turkey accuses Iraq of undermining ISIS fight

Iraqi protesters waving national flags during a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Dec 12, 2015, to demand the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraq.
Iraqi protesters waving national flags during a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Dec 12, 2015, to demand the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraq. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - Turkey accused Iraq on Friday (Dec 19) of undermining the global fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants by taking its complaint about the deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq to the United Nations Security Council.

The 15-member council met on the issue on Friday (Dec 19) at the request of Iraq and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari who asked the body to adopt a resolution demanding Turkey withdraw its troops immediately.

Jaafari signaled the request for council action was a last resort. "Iraq has spared no effort to exhaust all diplomatic channels and bilateral negotiations with Turkey, in order to withdraw its forces that are unauthorised in Iraq," he said.

Turkey deployed around 150 troops in the Bashiqa area earlier this month with the stated aim of training an Iraqi militia to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Turkey withdrew some troops this week, moving them to another base inside Iraq's Kurdistan region, but Baghdad said they should pull out completely.

Turkey's UN Ambassador Halit Cevik said the deployment had been taken out of context and that additional troops had been sent to the camp to provide force protection due to increasing threats.

He said Ankara believed it had taken sufficient measures to de-escalate the situation, so efforts could be re-focused in combating ISIS militants, who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. ISIS is also known as Daesh.

"From the outset, we tried to resolve this matter through bilateral channels. Because taking this issue to various international platforms would serve no other purpose than to undermine the solidarity of the international community against Daesh," Cevik told the Security Council.

He said Turkey has never had and will never have any interest in violating Iraq's sovereignty.