Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. Photo: Iraqi media
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Turkish forces not to enter Iraq or it will “pay a heavy price.”
“We do not want to fight Turkey. We do not want a confrontation with Turkey. God forbid, even if we engage in war with them, the Turks will pay a heavy price. They will be damaged. Yes, we too will be damaged, but whenever a country fights a neighboring country, there will be no winner, both will end up losing," said Abadi.
"We warn Turkey if they want to enter Iraq, they will end up becoming fragmented,” Abadi warned, deriding Turkey as “not a country to able to fight outside their borders. Yes it happened 40 to 50 years ago in Cyprus, but Iraq is not Cyprus. Iraq is unified.”
Speaking to a group of journalists in Baghdad on Tuesday, Abadi explained that the situation between Baghdad and Ankara is calm, as of now, but “we have made our preparations in advance. We are still afraid of any objectionable step that might be taken. We hope it does not reach that point. “
He went to say, “We are not afraid of Turkey, but the aftermath of the emergence of a new war. We do not want that. We want reduction of the problems, not escalation.”
“Turkey and its forces will be damaged and we warn them again, if their troops enter Iraq we will fight them and we will look at them and treat them as the enemy,” he reiterated.
Asked by journalists about Turkey’s insistence that the multitude of foreign forces in Iraq is justification for Turkish forces to also be present, Abadi pointed out a key difference between the role of the international forces currently in Iraq and the role Turkey wants to play.
“The Turks claim that there are many countries present in Iraq. True. These countries have come upon our call and they do not fight on the ground. But rather, they have sent their military personnel and advisors to train our forces. They have come to supply us with logistical needs and arms.”
He also explained that although a global counter-ISIS coalition has been formed to fight ISIS from the air, the Iraqi air force carries out must of the airstrikes itself.
“The Iraqi jets provide most of the aerial support for us and for some strategic hits. We will need coalition warplanes because the military warfare they own – we do not have them.”
Turkish military began deploying tanks and military equipment to the Silopi area near the Iraqi border as the battle to reclaim Mosul from ISIS is ongoing some 100 kilometres from the border.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on Tuesday that the movement of military vehicles to Turkey’s border with Iraq is part of Turkey's counterterrorism operations, so his country can be ready for all possibilities.
"There are important developments in our region. On one hand, Turkey is in a very serious fight against terror but there are other important developments on the other side of our borders. Turkey must be ready for all possibilities, these are part of these preparations," Işık said.
Işık said that Ankara has not severed diplomatic ties with Baghdad, but if Turkey's red lines are crossed it will do what is necessary.
In his speech, Abadi touched on the recent “giant” advances being made by Iraqi forces against ISIS in Mosul and its outskirts.
“The advance of our forces directly into Mosul is ongoing and they have liberated Gogjali and the Mosul TV building.”
He also stressed that, “up to now, no human rights violations in war zone areas have been committed by Iraqi forces against civilians,” pointing out that there has been good coordination between the army and the civilians.