Iraq Requests Urgent UNSC Meeting Over Turkish Attack on Kurdish Resort That Killed 9
Experts believe military tensions won't escalate, say Iraq will choose diplomatic path
Iraq’s government over the weekend requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the bombing attack on a resort in Duhok, a northern province in Iraq, located in the semi-autonomous Kurdish territory.
The Iraqi government has openly blamed the attack that took place on Wednesday, leaving left nine civilians dead and tens wounded, on Turkey.
Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf said in a statement: “The ministry submitted a complaint to the Security Council and requested an urgent meeting to discuss the Turkish attack, which resulted in the killing and wounding of many civilians in Duhok Province.”
The Turkish government has a long-standing conflict with the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, an insurgent group seeking Kurdish independence from Turkey since 1984. The PKK has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, among others. In recent years, Turkey has launched several military operations to combat the PKK in southeast Turkey as well as in the Kurdish areas of neighboring countries such as Iraq and Syria.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denied responsibility for the attack and blamed it on “the terrorist organization,” referring to the PKK.
Romy Nasr, a MENA conflict analyst and stabilization adviser based in Iraq, told The Media Line that the area of the attacked resort has been at the center of intense military action for a considerable amount of time and is within between 3 km and 5 km of PKK positions targeted by Turkish artillery.
“Turkish forces frequently carry out ground operations, airstrikes and artillery bombardments in Iraq’s Kurdistan, especially the Qandil Mountains, the main base of the PKK,” she said.
Nasr added that the Iraqi government is concerned about both the Turkish military presence and the PKK presence in their territory.
“The request of an urgent meeting is to discuss the Turkish attack, which resulted in the killing and wounding of many civilians in Duhok Province, and primarily to discuss and address the issues of the presence of the Turkish military forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Iraqi territory,” she said.
Iraq is not going to war nor does it intend to go to war; the Iraqi relations with Turkey must be healthy with respect to mutual sovereignty
Given that there is no official treaty signed between Iraq and Turkey allowing the presence of Turkish forces on Iraqi soil, addressing this issue through the Security Council is becoming a must, explained Nasr.
Bilgay Duman, Iraq Studies Coordinator and Middle East specialist at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies – ORSAM, a Turkish think tank, says that there is no evidence that Turkey is responsible for the attack.
He suggested that some Iraqi officials blamed the attack on Turkey due to internal political considerations.
“Since Turkey supported Sunni actors and the Kurdish Democratic Party, some Shia actors blame Turkey because of the unsuccessful government formation. Also, the [Nuri al-] Maliki leaks further divided the Shia House of Iraq, anti-Turkey positions are useful to bring them together,” he told The Media Line.
Also, Duman continued, “the Iraqi constitution forbids any armed non-state actor to use its territory against its neighbors, Turkey’s anti-terrorism operations help Iraq by upholding its constitution as Iraq lacks the means to clear the terrorist bases in its territory and keep its sovereignty.”
Haydar Oruç, a Middle East researcher with expertise in Turkey, says that the missions undertaken by Turkey in northern Iraq are entirely within the scope of the fight against terrorism and comply with international law.
“Turkey supports the territorial integrity of Iraq and provides all kinds of support to the central government in this regard,” he told The Media Line.
Nasr pointed out that following the attack in Duhok, protests denouncing the attack took place around the Turkish embassy in Baghdad and the visa application center in Kirkuk.
She said that similar retaliation might be observed in the upcoming days, but she believes it is unlikely to escalate into a wider security operation given the containment approach used by both Iraq and Turkey.
“The Iraqi government preferred to resort to diplomatic means instead,” she said. “Iraq is not going to war nor does it intend to go to war; the Iraqi relations with Turkey must be healthy with respect to mutual sovereignty,” added Nasr.
According to Oruc, “Turkey’s most important sensitivity in the region is to end the terrorist threat coming from northern Iraq and Syria. In this context, it takes the necessary measures along the entire southern border to ensure border security.”
That is why there have been some tensions with the Syrian and Iraqi governments in the past, he explained.
The actual problem is between Turkey and the PKK, which should be solved bilaterally and through the oversight of international impartial parties without dragging Iraq into this, and surely without collateral damages such as what has happened in Duhok last week
However, added Oruc, “these tensions did not last long and common sense prevailed. Turkey respects the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq. His interlocutors know very well that he will not be in this region except for the fight against terrorism.”
Nasr claimed that “the actual problem is between Turkey and the PKK, which should be solved bilaterally and through the oversight of international impartial parties without dragging Iraq into this, and surely without collateral damages such as what has happened in Duhok last week.”
She noted that various Iraqi governments have been in talks with Turkey and have tried to resolve this issue through dialogue.
That being said, “a joint committee between Iraq and Turkey should be formed to design a clear security agreement with Turkey with a solid implementation plan and timeline,” Nasr suggested.