Turkey’s 4 security challenges in Iraq

Alwaght- The current problems between Iraq and Turkey have their own historical roots. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq has created special conditions for longstanding Iraq-Turkey problems. Additionally, some factors like dubious activities by the Israeli regime is northern Iraq, US military presence in Iraq, uncertainty in the country’s political future and rise and development of radical and takfiri groups in the country have added to complexity of the situation.

The Turkish security challenges in Iraq

1. Weakness of the central Iraqi government: Unstable structure of central government of Iraq and a slew of problems and difficulties it is suffering from have caused it fail to give the appropriate response to the insecurity and instability it is facing. At the time being, the central government has focused on securing the country and cleansing it of the rebel and terrorist groups. The other issues are in fact in the second degree of significance. The insecurity of Iraq poses a serious challenge to the Turkish borders as the country shares borders with Iraq in north.

2. Failure of policy of Turkeysizing Iraq’s Turkmen-populated areas: Since mid-1990s the Turkish leaders have adopted new policy in dealing with Iraq. Besides resuming trade exchanges with Baghdad, they launched oil-for-food program in northern Iraq regions. They sought support of the Iraq’s minority group of Turkmens in a bid to implement their policy Turkeysizing some significant northern cities like Erbil and Dahuk. Ankara made huge investments to promote the Turkish culture and change the demographic structure of Iraq regions close to their borders. However, ISIS terrorist group’s invasion and clashes between Baghdad government and the terrorist groups have spoiled Ankara’s long-term investments in the Iraqi regions.

3. Ongoing Kurdish threats: During 1990s and even after overthrow of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Turkey was astutely on the watch not to allow the power vacuum in northern Iraq that appeared after establishing secure zones in Iraq lead to independence of the Iraqi Kurds. Ankara actually aimed at preventing effective links between northern Iraq-based Kurds and the separatist Kurds in Turkey. However, at the time being the Iraqi Kurds are following plans to form an independent state in north of the country. Although the Turkish leaders have adopted a policy of silence and even approval, the fact is that such independence is by no way in favor of Turkey. Actually, according to the overall Turkish strategy, the status of the Iraqi Kurds in the time of Saddam Hussein was better than now for Ankara. Therefore, the state of the Kurds and their political future are source of grave concern for Turkey. Fears Turkey-based Kurds’ separatist measures and their potential unity with Turkey’s Kurds are the major Turkish motivations for intervention in Iraq. Additionally, Ankara officials are afraid of firstly, Kurdistan workers Party (PKK) moves in northern Iraq that could heighten insecurity and instability in the Kurdish-inhabited Turkey cities, and secondly,  Turkey-based Kurd’s following of Iraqi Kurds to seek autonomy.

4. Increased Israeli measures:  Ankara is worried about Tel Aviv’s suspicious moves in northern Iraq and its relations with the Kurds of Iraq. The Israeli regime backs forming an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. An independent Kurdish government could help Tel Aviv breaks its regional isolation and according to David Ben-Gurion’s plan form a regional coalition with a non-Arab state against the Arab countries. The presence of the Israeli regime in Iraq’s north and its support for establishment of a Kurdish government have posed grave concern for Turkey in past few years. Indeed, Tel Aviv’s struggle to establish a base in northern Iraq with the help of the Kurds to confront possible threats from West Asian countries could pose serious threats to Turkey’s  security.

By Alwaght