Turkey agrees to pull back troops from Iraq, proof of foreign policy shift

Putin and Erdogan talking turkey in 2016
The Turkish dirty dance with the Kurds has been put on hold…for now

A senior Iranian official has welcomed Turkey’s decision to pull out its forces from Iraq and respect the Arab country’s territorial integrity as a positive move.

“This [issue] that the Turkish government has decided to observe good neighborliness with Iraq and respect Iraq’s territorial integrity is a positive step,” Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, said on Saturday.

“We welcome any kind of friendship among regional countries … we do not welcome any tension between Turkey and Iraq,” he added.

After a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his administration has reached an agreement with Turkey over Baghdad’s demand for the withdrawal of Turkish military forces from a camp in the north of the Arab country.

“The prime minister and the delegation accompanying him confirmed that this issue will be solved in a satisfactory manner soon,” Abadi said.

Iraq’s state TV, which aired Abadi’s announcement, did not provide further details about the agreement over Turkey’s military presence in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa.

Turkey deployed about 500 troops to the facility last year, saying it was wary of potential attacks by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists that are currently based in the Iraqi city of Mosul, near Bashiqa.

Iraq has repeatedly called on Turkey to withdraw its forces or risk a potential confrontation with the Iraqi military, which is currently battling Daesh in Mosul. Baghdad has also refused Ankara’s call for involvement in the operation to liberate Mosul. The Iranian official further stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation among countries in the Middle East region.

“The regional nations’ prosperity hinges on regional cooperation and prevention of any tension among neighbors,” Velayati pointed out.

He said regional countries should not interfere in the domestic affairs of each others, voicing Iran’s opposition to any meddling in the internal affairs of states. The Leader’s aide said neither Turkey nor Syria would benefit from the existing tension between the two countries.

He emphasized that stability in Turkey-Syria relations depends on the recognition of equal rights, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Turkey’s controversial deployment of troops to northern Iraq comes as Ankara continues with its military activities in neighboring Syria.

The Turkish operation, which began in August 2016, has faced similar criticism from the Syrian government. Turkey says it will continue the push which it says is meant to uproot Daesh and Kurdish militants.



  1. The article in not a VT one, but from Press TV, and the commentary is mine, as noted, and not Gordon’s. And the main focus of that is clearly that Turkey’s Syria and Iraq policy is shifting, which is not a construct of ours, but a generally accepted one. That leaves for analysis the discussion of what pressures and enticements induced Erdogan to do this, and/or is this just a temporary shift. So this is the classic “work in progress” story, to which the Trump regime will also be weighing in on soon, and we will be reporting on that and its pros and cons in terms of being sensible or not, and is it sincere or a feint. As for changing positions, welcome to the world of Intel analysis, where, professionally anyway, if new information comes in then the analysis is adjusted to include that, otherwise all you really have is ideological analysis, which is considered Koolaid in the trade.

  2. These countries have a long history of zigzagging back and forth between the great powers — dating back to the Cold War and the Great Game before that. Moving a few pawns out of Iraq may or may not mean much and is likely to simply be tacking with the wind. It’s a possible start, maybe, but far from conclusive proof that things have changed. Closing Incirlik and withdrawing from NATO would be a serious game changer (if it’s even possible) and would make clear Turkey’s intention to go East instead of West. Loading a few tanks back on their transports isn’t much proof of anything. We shall have to wait and see what he is up to.

    • What should be obvious to Erdogan is that Turkey is likely to be the next powerful Muslim country on the list for destruction — if Turkey isn’t at the top of the list, it’s certainly in a close secod place behind Saudi. Bibi and his friends in Washington (and thus his latest Friend with Benefits) would surely prefer large smoking craters in both locations instead of vast arsenals with the reach to harm Israel.

      The bombings are increasing in frequency and severity. The Kurds are getting increasingly better armed. The attempted coup, or the cleanout (whichever it was) — has apparently left the airforce understaffed and grounded. The EU membership is gone. Visa-free EU travel necessary for expelling the Kurdish population is gone. Annexing half of Syria is gone. Looting the oil is gone. The Kurd-free buffer zone in Iraq is gone.

      The Turks must be wondering if their country is to be the next Ukraine or the next Syria. Turkey is heavily infiltrated and defenceless against the type of Chaos that America spread so successfully in Syria. Re-aligning with, Russia, if at all possible, may be its best option.

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