Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AFP.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described Iraq's complaint at the United Nations over the deployment of Turkish soldiers to Camp Bashiqa near Mosul as "not a sincere step."
Erdogan told Turkish TV on Saturday that it was Iraq’s "natural right" to file the complaint and ask the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, but added that Baghdad is being insincere by making this demand.
The Turkish president said that Ankara could not count on Baghdad for security in the region, particularly near its borders.
“Are we to wait for the invitation of the central Iraqi government when there is an attack to our country?" Erdogan asked rhetorically before adding," We have no such luxury."
In a televised address on Friday Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the deployment of Turkish troops near Mosul a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
Abadi claimed that Iraq has already given "Turkey a time limit to withdraw its troops and not to close the door to dialogue," and called upon the Security Council to "shoulder its responsibilities" by demanding that Turkey withdraw.
Erdogan however, defended his country’s troop movements, saying the 150-man Turkish force "are more of a training team rather than a combative force" and that they were there upon Baghdad's insistence last year, as quoted by Anadolu news agency.
He went on to say that Russia and Iran were behind the Iraqi complaints.
Iraq's most influential and senior Ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, also joined Baghdad in condemning the Turkish move and ordering the forces out. Turkey shouldn't have deployed its "troops to the territory of another state under the pretext of supporting the fight against terrorism." AP quoted Sistani as saying.
Consequently the Grand Ayatollah called upon Baghdad to "protect the sovereignty of Iraq."