The Arab League on Thursday accused Turkey of violating international laws by deploying military personnel in Iraq and threatening Iraq’s sovereignty. The condemnation by the 22-member body comes less than a week after Ankara announced that it would withdraw troops from northern Iraq, acknowledging a “miscommunication” with Iraq.
The Turkish deployment “is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security,” the Arab league said, in a statement, adding that Turkish troops had “increased tumult in the region.”
“We find the actions of Turkey, which crossed the borders of Arabic countries and entered their territories very unsettling, and we demand an immediate withdrawal,” Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi reportedly said. “We view Iraq's concerns as legitimate, and we support its position to the end.”
Since the start of the U.S.-led assault on the Islamic State group last year, Turkey has had a few hundred troops stationed at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul — a city currently under the control of ISIS. However, earlier this month, Turkey sent another 150 troops and 20 tanks to the region, increasing the total number of Turkish military personnel near Mosul to over 1,000.
In response to protest from the Iraqi government, which said the deployment was unauthorized, Turkey announced Saturday that it had begun withdrawing troops “in accordance with the requirements of the fight against Daesh [ISIS].”
“Turkey reiterates its support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and acknowledges the miscommunication with the government of Iraq over the recent deployments of Turkish protection forces to support training activities for Iraqi forces in their campaign against Daesh in northern Iraq,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, in a statement released Saturday.
However, during Thursday’s Arab League meeting in Cairo, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari reportedly criticized Turkey’s insistence on “using the term ‘redeployment.’”
“They [Turkish troops] would be relocated from one Iraqi area to another Iraqi area. Sovereignty is sovereignty, and the territories are one,” he said, reiterating the demand that all Turkish troops should leave Iraqi territories.