Baghdad and Ankara are still at odds about Turkish troops in N. Iraq
A long stewing argument between the neighboring governments is only getting more bitter.(AFP/File)
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In early December, government officials in Baghdad gave their counterparts in Ankara a 48-hour deadline to remove some 150 Turkish troops from their station in northern Iraq—an ultimatum that sparked a long, bitter battle made worse by Ankara's subsequent non-compliance of the request.
It was a fight with many players and a lot of complexity, which you can read more about here.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have asserted the troops are there to stay, claiming they are there for training purposes under a pre-arranged agreement with Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
But the story’s back in the news this week after Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari threatened military action if his government's demands are not met.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other officials claim a Turkish delegation pledged in a statement to remove the troops from Iraqi soil—a promise they say has gone unfulfilled.
The troops, stationed some 60 miles from the Turkish border near Iraq's Bashiqa military base, are apparently involved in a training program to help Iraqi militias fight against Daesh (ISIS). But Baghdad says it never approved such a presence on Iraqi soil and sees the move as a violation of the country's sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials don't seem to be taking the threat too seriously. In comments following al-Jaafari's on Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said while Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty,the troops were stationed in an area of Iraq with limited government security presence and very little oversight from Baghdad.
Brushing off the threat off violence, Davutoglu also said he thought the Iraqi government should direct its attention elsewhere.
"If Baghdad wants to use force, they should use it against Daesh," he said.
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