Turkey is 'pouring oil on the fire': Iraq PM spokesman

AFP , Tuesday 11 Oct 2016

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (Photo: AP)

Turkey's president is "pouring oil on the fire" and the country is not serious about resolving a dispute over Ankara's deployment of troops in Iraq, the premier's spokesman said Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Tuesday told Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to "know your place," and said that he is "not on my level."

With his latest remarks, Erdogan is "pouring oil on the fire," Saad al-Hadithi, the Iraqi premier's spokesman, told AFP, adding that Turkey's responses had made an issue of law and security into a "problem of a personal nature".

"It seems that Turkey is not serious about solving the problem with Iraq," Hadithi said.

Abadi has repeatedly called on Turkey to withdraw troops deployed near the northern city of Mosul, and said that they will not play a role in the operation to retake it from the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Turkey has ignored these requests and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said last week that the country's forces would stay "no matter what the Iraqi government in Baghdad says."

The dispute has now lasted for almost a year, and was reignited by the Turkish parliament's decision to extend a government mandate for a year, thereby allowing Turkish troops to remain in Iraq.

Turkey has had forces deployed in northern Iraq since the 1990s in areas that are part of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, which also currently controls the area near Mosul where the Turkish troops are deployed.

Kurdish security forces are in practice not under Abadi's command, meaning that appealing for their withdrawal and pushing for allies to help is his main recourse at the moment.

Iraq has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the dispute, which threatens to complicate plans to recapture Mosul from IS.

Iraqi forces are currently preparing for the operation to seize the city from IS, which overran it and other areas in 2014 but has since lost significant ground in the country.

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