The Turkish military is reportedly training the members of a Ba'athi group called "Free Iraqi Army" to pave the ground for taking down the government of Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki. Citing intelligence sources, the Turkish newspaper, Aydinlik Gazete, said that the Iraqi militants are under special trainings in Golbasi Police Training Center in Ankara province. The report added that the militants, linked to fugitive Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, arrived in the Turkish capital in autumn 2012 and then went under military training in Golbasi. The fugitive deputy of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is also cooperating with Ankara government to topple Maliki government, according to the report. The report claimed that Douri has vowed to give Turkey the control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after the ouster of Maliki, without giving further details.
Earlier this month, a video aired by the Saudi Channel Al Arabiya showed Douri encouraging protesters to stand their ground until the Maliki government is toppled.Douri, once Iraq's second most powerful man and head of Saddam's Ba'ath party, said he was in Iraq's Babil governorate to support the opponents of the government. Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges. The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. However, Baghdad says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws. On January 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned anti-government protesters that security guards could intervene to end illegal demonstrations across the country. The Iraqi government also criticized Turkey for meddling in internal affairs of the country. In December 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Iraqi government of sectarian behavior, warning that Iraq may meet the same fate as Syria. DB/MA