Iraqi disintegration ‘double-edged sword’ for Turkey

TEHRAN, Jan. 05 (MNA) – A University of South Alabama professor believes Turkish military presence in north Iraq seeks tactical as well as strategic objectives.

Professor Nader Entessar told Payman Yazdani of Mehr News International Service in a mailed interview that Turkey had been seeking long-term influence in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria to ultimately marginalize Iran:

Ties between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan have been boosted. What objectives Ankara would seek from this improvement?

Ankara's goals are based on Turkey's desire to preserve and expand its influence in the Middle East as a whole but especially in Iraq and Syria. Turkey under Erdoğan hopes that it will ultimately become the single most important regional state in both Iraq and Syria thus marginalizing Iran's interests in both of these countries.

 

Does Turkey benefit from Iraq's disintegration?

Iraq's disintegration can be both helpful and detrimental to Turkey's interests.  It will obviously hurt Turkey's interests if a chaotic and uncontrollable situation emerges in a disintegrated and unstably divided Iraq.  However, Turkey may think that if it can continue to control the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and maintain it as a pliant client, it may accrue some economic and strategic interests in a divided Iraq.  By keeping the KRG, or an independent Kurdistan, as a subservient client, Turkey may hope that it will be able to weaken its own Kurdish problem by portraying itself as a "friend of the Kurds."

 

Are present Turkish interests in Iraqi Kurdistan tactical or strategic?

They are both tactical and strategic.  Turkey is reaping some tactical benefits by aligning itself with the KRG, but Ankara's long-term goals are strategic and are just one of the broader landscape of Turkey's objectives in the Middle East.

 

How would you assess the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq?

The current deployment of a large number of Turkish ground troops and heavy weapons to a military base in Bashiqa, approximately 15 kilometers northwest of Mosul, falls outside the official borders of the KRG.  However, we should note that the presence of Turkish military battalions in northern Iraq, which are nominally controlled by the KRG, is not a new phenomenon.  Turkey has had military bases near the Iraq-Turkey border in the provinces of Duhok and Erbil, but these bases were established primarily to allow Turkey to conduct operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).  But Bashiqa is the only Turkish military base in northern Iraq established for a purpose other than fighting the PKK.  As I have already indicated, the base falls outside the KRG’s official borders.  Turkey's major objective is to use its deployment in Bashiqa to launch operations designed to bring the city of Mosul under indirect Turkish control through its clients in the KRG.

 

Nader Entessar is professor of international relations and chairperson of Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of South Alabama.

 

Interview by: Payman Yazdani 

 

News Code 113324

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