Baghdad, Iraq – Turkey’s newest navy operation within the Kurdish area of northern Iraq started early final week, with Ankara launching an air and floor offensive focusing on the Kurdistan Employees’ Celebration (PKK) in pockets of Duhok province on April 18.
These operations towards the PKK, an armed group preventing for the autonomy of Turkey’s southeast and regarded a terrorist organisation by Ankara, have grow to be a daily prevalence over current years. Nevertheless, they’re rising extra controversial in Iraq, and never simply in areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Authorities (KRG).
“This operation is principally attempting to intervene and set up networks of statement, monitoring, and bases,” Sardar Aziz, an analyst and former adviser to the KRG parliament, instructed Al Jazeera. “This time Turkey is planning to remain.”
Solely days earlier than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the launch of the operation, dubbed Claw-Lock, he met with the KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, an obvious sign that the KRG was supportive, to a sure extent, of the operation. Erdogan has additionally stated that the Iraqi authorities cooperated with the operation.
But the Iraqi central authorities not solely refuted Erdogan’s declare, but additionally strongly condemned Ankara’s operation. Baghdad has additionally summoned the Turkish ambassador to register its opposition.
“The Turkish facet is finishing up steady violations that aren’t based mostly on any authorized foundation or settlement between the 2 nations … they invoke Article 51 of the United Nations Constitution for self-defence, and this can’t be applied with out official Iraqi approval,” Iraqi international ministry spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahaf stated.
Turkey says that operations towards the PKK in northern Iraq are essential to cease the group from finishing up additional assaults in Turkey.
Regardless of Ankara’s declare that it had obtained assist from each Erbil and Baghdad, it seems to be fairly clear that there’s a divide inside Iraq.
“The truth that President Erdogan talked about this operation occurred efficiently in cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, regardless of the Iraqi international ministry condemning the operation and summoning the Turkish ambassador, exhibits to you the dysfunction of Iraqi international coverage,” stated Hamzeh Hadad, a political analyst targeted on Iraq.
“The KRG says one factor and the Iraqi international ministry says one other. The dysfunction is additional embarrassing when you think about the Iraqi international minister is from the KDP, the identical half because the KRG prime minister.”
The KRG has but to problem any official statements on the operation, and the inner division throughout the regional authorities may need contributed to this radio silence, in response to analysts.
“[The] KRG may be very divided and is unable to specific condemnation,” Aziz stated. “Erdogan is at all times utilizing Kurdish events to point out that Kurds are agreeing with [him]; it’s nicely deliberate, and the intention is to point out that the [KRG] authorities is supporting the operation.”
Assaults on Shia armed teams
The Turkish operation has come as Iraqi politics continues to face unsure instances, with a brand new authorities but to be fashioned and negotiations between political factions ongoing, regardless of elections being held again in October 2021.
To make issues extra precarious, native Iraqi media shops have that the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) armed group, a pro-Iranian predominantly Shia pressure that has important navy affect in Iraq due to its function within the combat towards ISIL (ISIS), and now additionally has an necessary political bloc.
For the reason that group’s institution in 2014, Turkey has thought of the PMF to be totally guided by Iran, in response to Harry Istepanian, an analyst based mostly in Washington, and due to this fact having no legitimacy in Sunni areas. An assault on the PMF could be thought of a provocative motion that sends a message to Iraq’s political teams, whereas additionally exposing a danger of additional escalations.
“Turkey carried out the assault on the PMF as a warning message to the Shia factions to stay exterior of Turkey’s political sport in Iraq,” Harry Istepanian instructed Al Jazeera. “The presence of Turkish troops in Bashiqa and different places is in keeping with its blatant opposition to [PMF] presence in what are thought of Sunni areas.”
Turkey has not formally commented on studies of the assaults on the PMF, and Al Jazeera couldn’t independently confirm the studies.
How the PMF will reply, if in any respect, will seemingly sway a few of the future course of Turkey’s navy ambition in Iraq.
“It’s doable to see extra assaults on the PMF,” Istepanian stated. “Nevertheless, any PMF assault could be a brand new stage of the battle, which might permit to be towards the Turkish intervention.”
For now, Iraq’s confused response to Turkey’s operation displays its personal confused state, with no authorities or a stable sense of function. A extra concrete place on Turkey could solely be doable when that’s resolved.
“It’s troublesome to find out whereas within the present impasse of selecting a brand new authorities,” Istepanian stated. “Your entire geopolitical panorama will depend on numerous regional elements related to Turkey’s future relations with Iran and the south Caucasus, the Russian navy invasion of Ukraine and Turkey’s inside politics and financial troubles.”