An Iraqi lawmaker has condemned Turkey’s ongoing military operations in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region against purported positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, stating that Ankara intends to seize control of the strategic northwestern city of Mosul and annex it to its own territory.
“Turkey has been [aggressively] seeking to take control of Mosul and annex it to its own territory. Its attempts in this regard date back to 2014, and are still going on,” Muhammad al-Shabki told Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
“Turks have long been forging ahead with a plan in [Iraq’s northern province of] Nineveh. It is not simply limited to targeting PKK positions, but rather entails other objectives.”
“Turkey intends to expand its geographic expanse, control Mosul, annex it, control it both politically and administratively, and implement its own agendas there,” Shabki said.
The Iraqi legislator said, “Under the plot, devised before 2014, the United States was supposed to take control of Mosul and the Turkish consulate there was set to be in charge of its administration. Today, Ankara’s attempts to seize control of the northern Iraqi city have become overt through attacks on the region, and its annexation bids.”
On May 3, Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish chargé d'affairs in Baghdad to submit a letter of protest over Ankara’s ongoing violations in Kurdistan region, including the presence of the Turkish defense minister in the area without prior coordination.
“The Iraqi government expresses its strong dissatisfaction and condemnation regarding the presence of Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Iraqi territories without coordination or prior approval by competent authorities, and his meeting with Turkish forces who are illegally present in the region,” Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Nizar al-Khairallah said in a statement, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported back then.
The ministry also denounced Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s statements about establishing a permanent Turkish military base in northern Iraq.
“The Iraqi government categorically rejects the ongoing violation of Iraq's sovereignty by Turkish forces,” the statement noted.
Turkish military forces launched operations Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim on April 23 in northern Iraq’s Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions in pursuit of PKK militants.
Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union — regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.