Turkey offers Iraq military assistance in war against ISIS

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Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi (R) giving a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Baghdad on November 20, 2014. AFP/Iraqi Prime Minister's Office

Published Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, tried to counter charges that his country is facilitating the passage of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters to Iraq by offering military assistance to Baghdad in its war against the group. There is no official information, however, about the position of the Iraqi government regarding this initiative.

Baghdad – Informed sources told Al-Akhbar that “Iraq will not accept the Turkish government’s proposal to send ground forces to help in the war against ISIS,” explaining that “Iraq does not want to become a battleground used by Turkey for its own interests.”

Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that he agreed with his Turkish counterpart to exchange security and intelligence information in confronting ISIS and to turn a new leaf in the relationship between the two countries.”

In a joint press conference, Abadi added that “Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu offered military cooperation in confronting ISIS as he believes the group poses a threat not only to Iraq and the region but to Turkey as well, and we welcome the Turkish position supporting Iraq.” He stressed that Iraq is keen on a continued relationship with Turkey, especially that both countries face a terrorist threat emanating from Syria.

He said, “The two sides discussed economic issues, the relationship between the two countries and the security threat facing Iraq and the region,” indicating that “there is a fundamental agreement that provides for an exchange of information between the two countries and full security cooperation.”

Regarding the war on ISIS, the Iraqi prime minister, who accepted an invitation to visit Ankara next month, said, “Iraq has moved from a defensive position where Baghdad was under threat to fighting in other areas,” stressing that “the final countdown for ISIS has begun and the group is heading towards defeat.” Abadi pointed out that “the security forces are working with an integrated plan,” explaining that “Iraq does not need any foreign troops and has enough military and security forces in addition to popular mobilization.”

Davutoglu said that this visit will open a new path in the historical relationship between the two countries, stressing that Iraq’s security means security for Turkey.

He explained that his country will do all it can to cooperate with Iraq in fighting terrorism and stressed that there is no evidence for Turkey’s “involvement” in supporting “terrorism,” arguing that these charges are fabrications.

Davutoglu’s visit is his first in his new post as prime minister and the first by a Turkish official to Baghdad since Abadi became prime minister. The visit is part of an effort between the two neighboring countries to end the tension that characterized their relationship under Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish prime minister also met Iraqi President Fuad Masum who said that his country looks forward to “closer cooperation with neighboring Turkey at all levels, especially cooperation in fighting terrorism.” In a statement on the sidelines of the meeting, Masum said that “Iraq now faces the threat of ISIS terrorists,” adding that “Turkish support in this confrontation is very important, especially in sheltering the displaced.”

In other news, speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, revealed that opening the Saudi embassy will one month at most.

He said at the end of his visit to Riyadh that “statements by Saudi officials indicate that the issue will not take a month,” indicating that his country is waiting for a visit by a Saudi security delegation to discuss the logistical issues related to opening the embassy.

Regarding the relationship between his country and the Kingdom, Jabouri said that Masum’s visit broke the ice but indicated that melting the ice requires time. He expressed his belief, however, that restoring a normal relationship between the two countries “does not need a lot of effort.”

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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