Turf War: Iraq and Turkey go head-to-head over Mosul
Article first appeared on the Brookings Blog where Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards looks at the twin issues of territory and sovereignty with reference to the ongoing battle over Mosul.
As the battle for Mosul has commenced, so too has a major turf war between Turkey and the Shi’a-led government of Haider Al-Abadi in Baghdad. A day after the Mosul offensive against ISIS commenced, thousands marched in protest on the Turkish embassy in Baghdad and called for their troops to be removed from this important part of northern Iraq. This is because territory and sovereignty still matter to the political dispensation in the Middle East.
The clash centers on Iraqi concerns after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the government of Al-Abadi for its pre-invasion planning strategy which attempted to include the insertion of the mainly Shi’a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia into battle planning. Turkey says Prime minister Al-Abadi should not turn Mosul into a new sectarian fault line pitching Sunni and Shi’a against each other which could also leave the door open for the insertion of Shi’a Iranian interests in northern Iraq as well.