Erdoğan defies criticism of troop presence in Iraq, plans to reinstate capital punishment

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan addresses people at Kılıçarslan square in Konya

Responding to international criticism of a Turkish troop presence in Iraq, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey is not a country that obeys every order and insisted that Turkey will not leave the Bashiqa camp, where it has deployed nearly 2,000 soldiers.

Speaking to civil society representatives in Konya on Friday, Erdoğan also responded to Western criticism that he wants the return of the death penalty in Turkey, saying, “Yes, I am a defender of the death penalty.” He said those who plotted to overthrow government by means of a military coup on July 15 will be given the necessary punishment.

Erdoğan also claimed that the people of Mosul are more hopeful since Turkey entered Iraq. “They [the people of Mosul] say they are pinning their hopes on steps taken by Turkey in northern Iraq,” Erdoğan said.

The Iraqi parliament decided on Oct. 4 to remove the Turkish troops, by force if needed, and described the Turkish units as an “invading force.” The decision then prompted mutual recriminations between the two countries and the summoning of ambassadors.

Speaking at a meeting in İstanbul on Tuesday, Erdoğan strongly criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who warned Turkey that it could cause a regional war by maintaining a military presence in Iraq and called for an immediate withdrawal.

You are not of my quality or at my level; know your place. We will go our own way in Mosul,” said Erdoğan.

Responding to Erdoğan via Twitter, al-Abadi said: “We are not your enemy, and we will liberate our lands through the determination of our men and not by video calls,” in a veiled reference to Erdoğan’s video TV connection to people during a July 15 military coup attempt in Turkey.

US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner on Oct. 5 urged Turkey to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity soon after the Iraqi prime minister warned Turkey not to trigger a regional war by maintaining a military presence in Iraq.

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