Baghdad canceled a visit by a minister and summoned the Turkish ambassador after a Turkish drone killed two senior Iraqi officials on Tuesday (August 11th) in the north of the country where Ankara believes it is within its rights by bombing Party positions workers from Kurdistan (PKK, Kurdish opposition in Turkey).
Since Turkey launched its operation in June “Tiger Claws” in Iraqi Kurdistan, the two neighbors have consistently argued – diplomatically – over the airstrikes and ground incursion by Turkish commandos.
On Tuesday, the death for the first time of commanders of the Iraqi regular forces prompted more drastic measures: the foreign ministry announced that Baghdad no longer wanted to receive the Turkish defense minister on Thursday.
In addition, the ministry added that the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad would be summoned again – for the third time since June – and be handed over “A letter of protest including strong words to say that Iraq categorically refuses attacks and violations” from Ankara.
The PKK, a common enemy
The Iraqi presidency has denounced “A dangerous violation of the sovereignty of Iraq”, calling Ankara to “Cease all military operations”.
Invariably, Ankara claims to fight against the PKK which it considers to be an “Terrorist” like the United States and the European Union.
If Iraq denounces the Turkish operation, in reality the PKK is also an enemy for Baghdad and a rival for Erbil, both of whom do not want to alienate the Turkish ally, the main economic partner of the Iraq and regional heavyweight.
Iraqi Kurdistan, for its part, cannot speak out head-on against a group that intends to carry the Kurdish cause, the same that Erbil defended to obtain its autonomy in 1991. But at the same time, the PKK, which does not not recognize it as a Kurdish government, competes with it on its own ground.
Turkish military posts
Turkey has had around ten military posts in Iraqi Kurdistan for twenty-five years. These are all positions that it does not intend to lose and to which it has even added new establishments, according to Kurdish sources.
On Tuesday, a Turkish drone struck in the Pradost region, on the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Iran, in the north of the province of Erbil. Two senior Iraqi officers, leading border guard battalions, were killed with a driver while in a vehicle, the Iraqi army said. “Blatant Turkish aggression”.
They were coming out, according to Ihssane Chalabi, mayor of the town near Sidakan, from a “Meeting between commanders of the Iraqi border guards and PKK fighters”.
Witnesses reported that clashes took place in the morning between PKK fighters and Iraqi forces. The meeting targeted by the drone had been called urgently to try to calm tensions, according to local sources.
Since the beginning of mid-June of “Tiger claws”, at least five civilians were killed, while Ankara announced the deaths of two of its soldiers and the PKK and its ten allies and supporters.