As the operation to free Mosul from the self-proclaimed caliphate approaches, the potential vacuum left after the Islamic State loses the city could lead to serious complications for the region. One who is poised to take advantage is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has frequently been accused of wanting to establish his own caliphate, and of striking in only a perfunctory fashion against the Islamic State, hoping eventually to co-opt it and appropriate its holdings for his own regime.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Turkey that “keeping troops in northern Iraq could lead to a ‘regional war.'” About 1,000 Turkish troops are stationed near Mosul “to protect what Ankara calls ‘Turkish interests.'”
Those interests are all about Islam: Shia (the al-Abadi regime in Baghdad) versus Sunni (Erdogan’s Turkey).
Mosul is a mainly Sunni Arab city that Erdogan does not want to see “fall under control of Shi’ite Iraqi troops.”
Erdogan had hardline messages for al-Abadi:
We will play a role in the Mosul liberation operation and no one can prevent us from participating.
After Mosul will be rescued from [IS], only Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and Sunni Kurds should remain there.
Some developments in the increasing Islamization of Turkey under Erdogan:
1. “The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government entertains ambitions to make Istanbul an Islamic financing hub, including a project to establish a bank called Mega Bank in cooperation with Indonesia and the Islamic Development Bank.”
2. Erdogan has been reported to be intensively using “Islamic symbols and rhetoric, including rally appearances with the Quran.”
Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy asks: “The problem is, what do they do after Mosul is liberated?….Do they support some factions? Do they give them a lot of money? Do they give them weapons?”
One possibility is troubling: “it may fall to the Obama administration to settle the dispute between Baghdad and Ankara.”
Obama has not exactly inspired confidence in his regional dealings and in his approach to the global jihad. For instance: i) his lax immigration policy and his creation of a “resettlement surge center”; ii) his promotion of war crimes in Yemen by bankrolling Saudi-Arabia in its human rights abuses against Shi’ites there; iii) his freeing up of billions to Iran in the nuclear deal, plus additional backroom deals with the rogue regime; and iv) his refusal even to acknowledge the ideological character of the jihad, which is an Islamic war of conquest, both within the region — as Erdogan clearly knows in regard to the Shia-Sunni divide — and outside of the region (the dar al-harb, the “house of war” of the West).
“Turkey-Iraq Tensions May Complicate Battle Against IS in Mosul”, by Rikar Hussein, VOA, October 5, 2016:
As the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group approaches, tensions between Iraq and Turkey are escalating over Turkey’s possible military involvement in the attack.
The dispute grew more intense Wednesday after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned that the presence of Turkish troops in the north of the country risked provoking a larger regional confrontation.
Around 1,000 Turkish troops are stationed near Mosul to protect what Ankara calls “Turkish interests,” which include training Kurdish and Sunni forces to fight IS. Turkey wants its forces to participate in the looming battle to take Mosul by Iraqi, Kurdish and Arab forces. Baghdad says Turkish troops should leave Iraq.
Tensions escalated when the Turkish parliament voted last week to keep troops in Iraq for another year to “fight terrorist organizations.” The Iraqi government issued a protest to the Turkish ambassador Wednesday, following a late-night vote condemning the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil.
Future tensions expected
Iraq’s Abadi warned Turkey that it was risking a regional war by keeping troops inside Iraq, and said he had “warned Ankara more than once against intervening” in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
This dispute will “complicate the situation for months afterwards,” said Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“The problem is, what do they do after Mosul is liberated?” he asked of Turkish troops. “Do they support some factions? Do they give them a lot of money? Do they give them weapons?”
Turkish troops have entered Iraq several times before, albeit mostly with the consent of the Baghdad government.
A “border security and cooperation” treaty signed in 1983 by Turkey and Iraq allowed Turkish troops to enter Iraq multiple times to chase members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Kurdish guerrilla movement in Turkey that wants independence.
But when Turkey opened a military base in late 2014 in Bashiqa, 15 kilometers northeast of Mosul, the Iraqi government protested, saying Turkey had not consulted Baghdad for permission.
Tensions simmered for months, but the looming battle for Mosul is raising diplomatic pressures.
“We will play a role in the Mosul liberation operation and no one can prevent us from participating,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his parliament Saturday.
Turkey wants more than to help militarily in Mosul, analysts say. It is also seeking to increase its influence in Mosul, most of whose people are Sunni Muslims, after Islamic State extremists are pushed out, they say.
Turkish ‘sphere of influence’
“What they are doing in Mosul is to increase their sphere of influence,” said analyst Knights. “Mosul is a major Sunni Arab city with a population of about 1.2 million people [down from twice that size in 2014, before IS moved in]. It has a major significance for Turkey.”
Turkey does not want to see Mosul fall under control of Shi’ite Iraqi troops.
“After Mosul will be rescued from [IS], only Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and Sunni Kurds should remain there,” Erdogan said Sunday in an interview with the Saudi-based television channel Rotana.
Ultimately, analysts say, it may fall to the Obama administration to settle the dispute between Baghdad and Ankara over Turkey’s involvement in the battle for Mosul. Washington is an ally of both countries and is helping to craft battle plans to drive Islamic State fighters out of the city…..