In early 2008, Turkish soldiers entered Iraq in a similar effort to eradicate the PKK. "Operation Sun", as the incursion was called, was conducted with Washington's blessing for the most part. "Washington described the PKK as a 'common enemy', and only urged Ankara to keep its incursion short and closely focused," BBC noted at the time, adding that "the positions of the UN and EU have been similar, suggesting a degree of sympathy with Turkey's cause."
And then there was "Operation Steel" in 1995. And "Operation Hammer" in 1997." And "Operation Dawn." And the aplty named "Operation Northern Iraq."
You get the idea.
So while history doesn't repeat itself, it damn sure rhymes and here we are again watching as the Turkish military crosses the Iraqi border as though it's not even there chasing "terrorists" up into the mountains.
What’s different this time around, is that this isn’t a Kurd-chasing mission.
Turkey has apparently had some 90 troops on the ground in Bashiqa “for two years” on a mission to “train” the Peshmerga. The new troops - around 150 personnel supported by two dozen tanks- will “take over the mission,” according to Hurriyet.
“Turkey will have a permanent military base in the Bashiqa region of Mosul as the Turkish forces in the region training the Peshmerga forces have been reinforced,” the daily continues, adding that “the deal regarding the base was signed between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu, during the latter’s visit to northern Iraq on Nov. 4.”
With that in mind, consider where these Turkish troops (who, again, are supposed to be "training" the Peshmerga) are located.
So they're right next to Mosul and right between the Kurds and ISIS and, most importantly of all, right on what Al-Araby al-Jadeed claims is the smuggling route for illegal ISIS crude into Turkey from Iraq.
Araby al-Jadeed's story takes a turn for the fantastic after that, but the point is that it seems extraordinarily convenient that just as Russia is making an all-out effort to expose Turkey's role in financing Islamic State's lucrative oil operation and also to destroy ISIS oil convoys in Syria, that Ankara would dispatch troops and two dozen tanks to the exact place in Iraq where some reports suggest the heart of ISIS' Iraqi oil operation lies.
For his part, Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has called for Turkey to "immediately" withdraw its troops. He also calls Ankara's incursion a "violation of sovereignty." Here's the full statement:
It has been confirmed to us that Turkish troops numbering around one regiment armoured with tanks and artillery entered the Iraqi territory, and specifically the province of Nineveh claim that they are training Iraqi groups without the request or authorization from the Iraqi federal authorities and this is considered a serious breach of Iraqi sovereignty and does not conform with the good neighbourly relations between Iraq and Turkey.
The Iraqi authorities call on Turkey to respect good neighbourly relations and to withdraw immediately from the Iraqi territory.
That would seem to indicate that Baghdad has never approved the "training mission" that Ankara claims has been going on east of Mosul for two years.
Furthermore, this underscores the fact that Iraq does not want help from NATO when it comes to fighting ISIS. As we reported last week, Iraqis generally believe the US is in bed with Islamic State and you can bet that Russia and Iran will be keen on advising Baghdad to be exceptionally assertive when it comes to expelling a highly suspicious Turkish presence near Najma.
Ultimately, this is yet another escalation from Erdogan and the timing, location, and vague explanation raise all sorts of questions about what exactly those 150 troops and 25 tanks are doing but you can be sure that if Baghdad rebukes Washington and green lights Russian recon and airstrikes in Iraq, we'll find out soon enough.
By shooting down a Russian bomber and sending forces to neighboring Iraq, Ankara is adding fuel to the fire in the Middle East to prevent major powers from joining forces to defeat Daesh, also known as ISIL, Russian Senator Franz Klintsevich told RIA Novosti.
"The Su-24 tragedy, as well as the invasion of Turkish troops in Iraq are linked. The Turkish regime is trying to escalate tensions in the region to prevent a counterterrorism coalition from being formed," Klintsevich observed.
A so-called "war of all against all" will put an end to efforts aimed at bringing together major stakeholders, interested in defeating extremists. This is exactly what the country, which is engaged in illegal business with Daesh, is trying to achieve in the Middle East.
Turkey sent 130 soldiers to northern Iraq to allegedly train local Kurdish forces. The move was described by Baghdad authorities as "a serious violation of Iraqi sovereignty."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi urged Ankara to immediately pull out its forces, including tanks and artillery, from the Nineveh province. Iraqi President Fuad Masum referred to the incident as a violation of international law and urged Ankara to refrain from similar activities in the future, al-Sumaria TV Channel reported.
The Obama administration recently announced its plans to send 50 special operations troops to Syria and 100 more commandos to neighboring Iraq in what many view as breaking the promise not to send boots on the ground in the two countries plagued by sectarian violence and terrorism.
"The obvious reason that all presidents and senior administration officials initially downplay the mission and role of US military interventions is to catalyze domestic political support. This is because opinion polling of Americans reveals that they overwhelmingly do not support wars that they believe will be unilateral, long, bloody, and costly," conflict prevention expert Micah Zenko wrote for the National Interest.
One would imagine that the 100 special operations forces will be deployed to Iraq to take part in the existing mission aimed at training and assisting the Iraqi security forces. But their powers seem to go well beyond the non-combat scope. These troops will be able to "conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders," US Army Colonel Steve Warren detailed.
Instead of reevaluating and formulating a new approach, Obama has opted for "downplaying a US military commitment, then incrementally increasing that commitment and approving new missions, all while consistently claiming that there has been absolutely no mission creep and no violation of previous pledges," Zenko asserted.
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