Iraq declines offer
24 October, 2016, 12:00 am
BAGHDAD/ANKARA – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declined on Saturday an offer from Turkey to take part in the battle to drive Islamic State militants from Mosul, a decision that could rile Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Mosul was once part of the Ottoman empire and Turkey sees the city as firmly within its sphere of influence. Ankara is in a dispute with Iraq’s central government over the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.
“I know that the Turks want to participate, we tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle,” Mr Abadi told reporters after meeting US Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Baghdad on Saturday.
“If help is needed, we will ask for it from Turkey or from other regional countries,” he said.
During a visit to Turkey on Friday, Mr Carter signalled conditional support for a possible Turkish role in the campaign and said there was an agreement in principle that could allow for eventual Turkish participation.
The details, however, were still subject to negotiation, Mr Carter and other officials acknowledged at the time, and Iraq would need to agree.
By the tone of Mr Abadi’s comments on Saturday, that appeared unlikely anytime soon.
Mr Abadi said that five days prior, an official delegation from Turkey had visited Baghdad and made some recommendations.