After weeks of deployment near the city of Mosul, Turkey has decided to withdraw its military forces from Iraq to ease tension as announced on Saturday by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
The planned withdrawal came out, a day after the United States prodded Turkey to reduce tensions in Iraq. President Barack Obama “urged” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey via a phone call to move out and “to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.”
Moreover, the move seems to be a positive response of Turkey to the Iraqi government’s appeal brought to the United Nations Security Council, those Turkish forces in Iraq is an illegal deployment.
Earlier in December, Turkey had sent its troops to the Bashiqa military base in Northern Iraq. At least 300 Turkish troops and 20 tanks were deployed in Bashiqa to protect Turkish military trainers. According to Turkish government, the deployment mission was for the training of Iraqi Kurdish paramilitaries in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
On the contrary, Iraq denied any move to have invited the Turkish forces into Iraq. President Fuad Masum said that Turkey’s entry and presence is a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and international laws.
However, the Shiite dominated Iraq asked Turkey to withdraw its troops upon the worsening of regional tensions between pro-Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry declared in its December 19 pronouncement that “Taking into account the sensitivities on the Iraqi side … Turkey will continue the process it has already begun to withdraw its troops stationed in Mosul province.”
In this move out operation, Turkey vowed its continued support to the Iraqi government’s fight against DAESH (ISIS) in Northern Iraq, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Although, there had been miscommunication with Iraq on the deployment, still it will strengthen coordination with Baghdad on its military activities along the ISIS issue.
However, the Iraqi government has reacted to the latest military pull out, saying that this had been carried out without consultation. Turkey, in a statement recognizes the miscommunication with the government of Iraq over the deployments of Turkish protection forces.
Turkey continues with the move out of military forces from Nineveh province, which was the source of the miscommunication. Turkey pulled out more troops out of northern Iraq, following a partial withdrawal early this week.
Turkey has deployed troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul – a city controlled by Islamic State (IS) – since 2014 to train Iraqi Kurdish forces.
Turkey did not specify how many troops will be moved and their whereabouts or “where they would go to.” However, on Monday, Turkey’s military officials were quoted by the state-run news agency that a 10 or 20 vehicle convoy was heading north after leaving the Bashiqa camp.
After talks with Iraqi officials, the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu’s office released a statement that it had decided to re-organise its military personnel at Bashiqa camp.
It has been observed that the Turkish government has close relations with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq. However, Turkey viewed the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as an enemy because it is an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).