Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. AFP Photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan – Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said Tuesday that Kurdistan will remain neutral in a row between Baghdad and Ankara over Iraqi objections to Turkish troops training Peshmerga forces near Mosul.
"Before, there were agreements between Turkey and Baghdad and local authorities of Mosul over training (Sunni) Arab volunteers to be well-prepared for an anticipated battle for Mosul," Barzani told Rudaw.
"The Kurdistan region is not part of the problem. I will discuss this topic in Turkey tomorrow and we will also talk to Baghdad," he added. "If Turkish troops came to fight ISIS, it would be good."
Barzani is scheduled to visit Turkey Wednesday to meet top Turkish officials to discuss the war and current regional issues.
On Saturday, Turkey revealed it had been training Peshmerga forces in four provinces in Iraq, after Baghdad disclosed that fresh forces had been sent into Iraq without consultations with the central government.A new force of some 150 trainers was relieving the previous team, it said.
On Sunday, Baghdad gave Turkish 48 hours to withdraw the forces.
A Peshmerga official said there was reason to expect hostilities to break out between Turkey and Iraq after the expiration of that ultimatum.
“Iraq will probably turn to the United Nations to file a complaint against Turkey than use military force to evict the Turkish force stationed in Bashik now," said Brig. Gen. Hazhar Omer, a Peshmerga official.
He told Rudaw it was not the first time Turkish troops had entered Iraq, and that "many Turkish military advisers used to train the Peshmerga in Sulaimani and Erbil.”He said they had also trained the Hashd al-Wataniya volunteer Sunni militia a while back as part of the training for the Mosul police."
Turkish-Iraqi rivalries are more political than military," he added.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday that Ankara would not withdraw its troops, ignoring the Iraqi ultimatum.
“The existence of Turkish troops in Iraq is just like the other countries to provide training,”he said.“There is no other secret reason behind this, because we have sent the troops at the request of the Iraqi defense ministry.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidear al-Abadi said in a statement earlier this week that Iraq has all the right to use all means against Turkey, including calling on the UN Security Council, if Turkish forces do not withdraw from Iraq within the given