Iraq: Ties with Ankara Frozen until Further Notice, PM Abadi

Iraqi premier-designate Haider al-Abadi speaks at his first press conference since accepting the nomination to be Iraq’s next prime minister, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Al-Abadi called on the country's numerous Shiite militias and tribes to come under government control and stop acting independently on Monday, as violence across the country killed over 40 people in areas where the Muslim sect dominates. Since early this year, Iraq has been facing a growing Sunni insurgency with the Islamic State group and allied Sunni militants who have taken over areas in the country's west and north. (AP Photo/Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister)

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has stressed that Iraq “will not accept anything other than the complete withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the Bashiqa base” before its relations with Ankara can go back to normality.

Turkey claims that its forces are there following approval from the regional Kurdistan government but Baghdad stresses that the presence of the foreign forces without the authorization of the federal government is interference in the country’s internal affairs while underlining that “the sovereignty of Iraq is non-negotiable.” Turkey has around 500 troops in the camp. They are supposed to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish forces.

Abadi said the bilateral ties would “not move a step” with the neighboring country because “sovereignty cannot be partitioned nor negotiated” while underlining that it is “not a dispute over a border line” because Niveneh, where the Bashiqa camp is located, “is a land deep inside Iraq.”

Ankara is not willing to withdraw its troops from Bashiqa because it considers it as part of efforts to stall the advances of the Islamic State group.

Abadi recalled that during his last meeting with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim, he received “a promise that Turkey would withdraw troops from Bashiqa” without revealing any timeline. The Iraqi Prime Minister vowed that “Iraqi-Turkish relations will not improve until the complete withdrawal of the troops.”

However, Abadi claimed that the fight against terrorism is progressing. He added that militants of the Islamic State are “trying to compensate their huge losses” in Mosul “by launching terrorist attacks in other Iraqi governorates.” The group’s suicide and car bomb attacks have increased in other cities recently.

The war against IS in Iraq and Syria has forced around 4million to flee as refugees to Turkey. President Erdogan spoke of the possibility to naturalize some of the refugees who have “high levels of education, experience and means” and could “make a great contribution” to Ankara.

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