Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi shared his concerns with foreign diplomats in Baghdad on Monday over Turkey’s involvement in the escalation of tensions among groups in Iraq and warned the Turkish government against posing a threat to his country’s sovereignty.
Speaking with the ambassadors and representatives of foreign missions in Iraq, al-Abadi also accused the Turkish government of adopting the policies of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by exporting its domestic problems to neighboring countries.
“We demanded Turkey withdraw its troops from the north [of Iraq]. Turkish troops remaining in the region will damage the historic relations of the two countries,” al-Abadi said.
Turkish troops in Iraq have been a contentious issue for some time, but a recent parliamentary motion that gives the Turkish government a mandate for cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq for another year sparked a backlash from Baghdad.
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.
Prime Minister al-Abadi warned Turkey that it may cause a regional war by maintaining a military presence in Iraq and called for an immediate withdrawal.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım defied al-Abadi’s remarks, saying that Turkish troops would remain in Iraq to continue the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also slammed al-Abadi on Tuesday, saying Turkey will do whatever it wants in Mosul, the t24 news website reported.
Speaking at the ninth meeting of the Eurasia Islam Council held in İstanbul on Oct. 11, Erdoğan strongly criticized 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.