Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) has slammed Turkey’s controversial troop deployment to Iraq as ‘reckless and inexplicable.’
“We believe that Turkey has acted recklessly and inexplicably, carrying out additional deployments on the territory of Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi government,” Vitaly Churkin told reporters following a closed-door session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, adding that he had raised the issue during the meeting.
“They gave explanations saying basically that all that was in the interest of fighting against ISIL (Daesh) and in the interest of Iraq,” Churkin said, adding, “So if that is the case, why not ask for the permission of the government of Iraq?”
The Russian official called Turkey’s action a reflection of the “lack of legality” in the airstrikes in Syria by the so-called US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh.
Turkey ‘now on UN Security Council radars’
Churkin expressed regret that the Council failed to agree on Russia’s proposal to issue a statement reaffirming the need to respect international law and sovereignty.
“But now the situation is within the focus of the attention of the Security Council, so we hope it will help resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the Iraqi government, whose sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence will be respected,” Churkin said.
Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali al-Hakim, who also attended the meeting, seemed to downplay the row between his country and Turkey, saying that bilateral talks between Ankara and Baghdad over the issue are going on “very well.”
Al-Hakim’s soft remarks at the UN came even as other Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, had adopted a much tougher rhetoric over the Turkish invasion of the Arab country. Abadi had even set a 48-hour deadline for Ankara to withdraw the military forces from Iraqi territory – an ultimatum that was quietly ignored – and had put the air force on alert. The tough talk, however, did not seem to be backed up by real resources of power, and Iraq’s only realistic recourse seemed to be limited to diplomacy only.
On December 4, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province.
Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi forces in the fight against Daesh terrorists. Baghdad, however, strongly condemned the invasion, branding the uncoordinated act a violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty.
Turkey said on Tuesday that it would stop new troop deployments to Iraq but refused to withdraw the forces already there, as demanded by Baghdad.
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh began its march through the territory in June 2014. Iraqi army soldiers and Popular Mobilization units have been engaged in joint operations to take back the militant-held regions.