Turkish airstrikes escalate ahead of Erdoğan’s visit to Iraq

Turkey has conducted more than 665 airstrikes and drone strikes in Syria and Iraq by June this year, in an escalation emboldened by Turkey’s international leverage.

Turkish forces have carried out more than 665 airstrikes and drone strikes in Syria and Iraq in the first six months of 2023, London-based news website The New Arab reported citing the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Strikes have intensified since Iraq’s announcement that it will host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss bilateral issues, New Arab said.

Erdoğan’s first visit to Iraq as president has not been scheduled yet, while the announcement from Iraq’s Foreign Ministry came on 3 August. His last visit was in 2011, as prime minister.

Turkey’s airstrikes and drone activity reportedly targets members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, however, Iraqi Kurdish watchdog Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) reported Turkish military activity in Iraq causing 129 civilian deaths and 189 injuries between 2015 and 2022.

Issues raising tensions between the two countries include Turkey reducing water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into Iraq, and Ankara accusing Baghdad of not taking enough action against the PKK, which Turkey designates a terrorist organisation.

“In contrast to the previous utter silence, voices in Baghdad are rising against the Turkish military presence and activities, especially at the tri-border area with Syria,” analyst Bilal Wahab told New Arab.

Turkey’s extensive military presence on Iraqi soil has been subject to growing protest. “In contrast to the previous utter silence, voices in Baghdad are rising against the Turkish military presence and activities, especially at the tri-border area with Syria,” analyst Bilal Wahab told New Arab.

Another point of contention is Turkey’s refusal to pay Baghdad $1.5 billion in damages as per a ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce for sidestepping Baghdad and dealing with the Kurdistan Regional Government directly regarding oil exports, which the pro-Erdoğan Erbil government is not authorised to handle.

Globally, Erdoğan’s government has leverage with its western allies due to the crisis in Ukraine, with NATO needing approval from all current members for Sweden and Finland to join the bloc.

Turkey has “exacerbated its attacks against both [Iraq and Syria] because the international community is silent towards Turkish aggressions”, Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) representative Fethullah Husseini said.

“Turkey is ready to do anything in order to maintain its war with the PKK, including blackmailing Iraq and Syria with a reduction in water flows,” he added. “The Turkish regime since last month has created a humanitarian crisis for civilians in Hasakah by restricting the water flow from the Alouk water station.”

Photo: An armed Turkish drone. Source: Northcyprusnews

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This news was originally published by Medyanews. 

 

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