Thousands fill streets of Baghdad to protest Turkish military in Iraq
The protesters say the Turkish military is violating Iraq's sovereignty. (AFP/File)
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Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets of Baghdad to condemn Turkey’s illegal deployment of troops to the northern territory of Iraq.
Streets in central Baghdad were filled with angry demonstrators on Saturday.
A number of Iraqi military and political figures - including former prime minister and current lawmaker, Nouri al-Maliki, and the commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilizations Forces, Hadi al-Ameri – were present in the rally.
Iraqis will oppose any move which violates their country’s sovereignty, said Ameri, in an address to the demonstrators.
“We call on the Arab League, the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the [UN] Security Council to pressure Turkey to immediately withdraw its military forces from the Iraqi soil,” said Ameri, adding that Turkey’s deployment of troops around Mosul serves the interests of the Takfiris who have occupied the city and other areas in Iraq.
On December 4, the Turkish military deployed hundreds of troops as well as heavy weaponry to the camp of Bashiqa near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which has been under the control of Daesh since June 2014.
The protesters in Baghdad said the deployment is a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, asking the government to pressure Ankara for the withdrawal of the forces.
The Turkish government has already missed a deadline set by Iraq to pull out the troops from Bashiqa, prompting Baghdad to threaten to follow the case through the United Nations Security Council. Iraq submitted an official complaint with the Security Council on Friday, demanding an immediate and unconditional removal of the Turkish forces.
Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Mohamed Ali Alhakim sent a letter to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN and the December president of the Security Council, appealing to the UN “to demand that Turkey withdraw its forces immediately ... and not to violate Iraqi sovereignty again.”
“This is considered a flagrant violation of the principles of the UN Charter, and a violation of Iraqi territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Iraq,” said an unofficial translation of the Arabic text of the letter.
Power has confirmed that she has received the letter.
“Any troop deployment must have the consent of the Iraqi government,” said the US envoy.
Over the past two days, similar demonstrations have been held in several other cities of Iraq. In the southern city of Basra, protesters set the Turkish flag ablaze on Friday, urging the government to close the Turkish consulate there.
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