The New York Times reports: A dispute between Iraq and Turkey has emerged as a dramatic geopolitical sideshow to the complicated military campaign to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has insisted on a role in the battle for Mosul, trying to ramp up an involvement in Iraq that has already alarmed the Iraqi government.
“We have a historical responsibility in the region,” Mr. Erdogan said in a recent speech, drawing on his country’s history of empire and defeat, from Ottoman rule of the Middle East to its loss in World War I. “If we want to be both at the table and in the field, there is a reason.”
In response, the normally mild-mannered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, warned last week of a military confrontation between Turkey and Iraq. If Turkish forces intervene in Mosul, he said, they will not “be in a picnic.”
“We are ready for them,” Mr. Abadi said. “This is not a threat or a warning, this is about Iraqi dignity.”
The rift between Turkey and Iraq is no mere diplomatic row; it is a stark example of the complete breakdown in sovereignty of not just Iraq but Syria as well. The Islamic State has erased the borders between the two countries, while Turkey has stationed troops in both countries without the permission of either government. [Continue reading…]