On Friday, a Turkish government official said Ankara had plans to construct a military base on Iraqi soil amid long-time clashes with Kurdish militants in the north.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Ankara would press ahead with its military operations near its border in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Emphasizing the strategic significance of the Metina region of Duhok Province in Iraqi Kurdistan, Soylu said, “Just like we did in Syria, we will establish bases and control the area.”
“This region is a route to Qandil and we will control this line,” the minister added, referring to the mountainous area in northern Iraq where militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are based.https://if-cdn.com/VkJgYli?v=1&app=1
On Saturday, Ammar Ta’meh, head of the al-Nahj al-Watani faction, said Turkey’s “expansionist plans” would threaten the relationship between the two countries and “bring harm and loss to everyone,” according to the Arabic-language National Iraqi News Agency (NINA).
“Such provocative steps hinder opportunities for cooperation and coordination required for countering common challenges facing the region as a result of the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology and produce new hotbeds of tension and security confusion that give an unacceptable impetus to Daesh remnants who have long benefited from conflicts and estrangement in positions between the countries of the region.”
He also stressed that the existence of a unified Iraqi national position to help the government in maintaining the sovereignty of the country and ending the influence of foreigners is a necessity for maintaining the security and stability of Iraq.
The PKK has, for decades, fought the Turkish state for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq. Ankara views the armed group as a “terrorist” organization and a national security threat.
The Turkish military frequently dispatches warplanes, drones, and ground forces across the Iraqi border to carry out attacks against PKK positions at its doorstep.
Those operations, which are not coordinated with the central Iraqi government, have been condemned by Baghdad as a violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty.
Iraq has repeatedly urged Turkey to end its military activities on Iraqi soil. It has also summoned Ankara’s envoy over the raids several times.
Turkey, however, accuses its neighbor of tolerating the PKK presence on its soil, refusing to end its cross-border attacks.