WASHINGTON – Turkey appears to be replaying history in once again seeking to occupy portions of northern Iraq, according to a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The current move is an effort to upset the present Shiite-led Iraqi government in Baghdad and create conditions for a confrontation that only will aid the Islamic State, a development which also may be aimed at Iran, according to regional experts.
But in an email to G2Bulletin, Middle East expert Cengiz Candar puts the move into perspective in that it parallels actions taken in the 16th and 17th century when the then-Turkish Ottoman Empire fought the Persians, or modern-day Iranians, over parts of northern Mesopotamia, or today’s Iraq.
In that territory is the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which ISIS has occupied for more than a year.
In early December, Turkish troops moved into northern Iraq ostensibly to train the Kurds at the invitation of a military commander in the area but without approval of the central government in Baghdad.
When asked to leave, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused, instead ordering more armor and tanks in addition to troops to move in.
The Baghdad government first suggested an ultimatum and force, giving the Turks 48 hours to leave, but now has stated it will continue negotiations to get them to leave.
At the present time, Turkey still has troops on site for “training.”
Regional experts tell G2Bulletin that the United States is concerned because of Turkey’s status as a NATO member and an ally to the West, and the developments bring into question the ability of the Iraqi central government to control all of the country in the unstable region.
The U.S. position has been that all actions inside Iraq must go through the central government.
But because Washington has been generally quiet toward Turkey’s independent actions, Ankara sees an opportunity to further its own foreign policy interests which experts tell G2Bulletin is an effort to revive the Ottoman Caliphate.
That ended its 700-year reign following the end of World War I.
Candar, who also writes for al-Monitor, points to historical 16th and 17th century precedent for Turkey’s present-day actions. Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran historically have been rivals over Mesopotamia, or present-day Iraq.