The Government of Iraq has issued an ultimatum to Turkey to withdraw its military from Iraqi soil. The Iraqi Government has demanded Turkey comply within 48 hours. Turkey has military on Iraqi soil in bases at Soran, Bamerne, Raniya, Qualachwalan, Zeikan and Ba’shika. The Iraq Government claims that the military Turkey has deployed are special forces. Around 150 Turkish troops have been deployed so far, with the intention of deploying a further 2000. There are also around 25 Turkish tanks deployed at Ba’Shika. So far, the only response from Turkey is that it will suspend any further deployment of troops on to Iraqi soil, but has refused to clarify its intentions regarding its current military presence in Iraq.
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The announcement by Turkey came after Iraq threatened to appeal to the UN Security Council. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with a letter, promising not to deploy additional military contingents in the war-torn country, but ignored the request to withdraw troops that have been already deployed to the area.
More than 150 Turkish troops were sent to a military camp in Iraq’s Bashiqa region on Thursday. This is in addition to the 90 troops that have been there for two years (without the approval of the Iraqi Government).
Here is a video purporting to show trucks carrying armoured vehicles and accompanying Turkish troops along a road in Northern Iraq at night.
There is speculation that Turkey’s military presence on Iraqi soil is to protect Turkey’s oil interests. The Barzani family, which heads the Kurdistan Regional Government, is running the oil business, while the Erdogan family handles the Turkish end (government and oil). President Erdogan’s son-in-law is the energy minister, while Erdogan’s son, Bilal, has the exclusive right to transport oil from Iraqi Kurdistan (and ISIS) through Turkey. Barzani’s 632,000 b/d oil operation depends heavily on a pipeline that runs from Iraq to Ceyhan (the Turkish port where Bilal Erdogan’s ships are based). However, over the summer the PKK attacked the pipeline, costing the KRG some $250 million in lost revenue.
Here is a statement on the crisis by the (Iraq-based) Kurdish Regional Government.