Iraqi troops are enforcing positions along the border with Turkey to prevent Turkish forces from advancing deeper into Iraqi territory, Iraqi security officials said Friday.
The move comes after two weeks of airstrikes as Ankara continues to target Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.
The officials said Ankara has established at least a dozen posts inside Iraqi territory as part of a military campaign to rout members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who Turkey says have safe havens in northern Iraq.
The airborne-and-land campaign, dubbed “Operation Claw-Tiger,” began June 17 when Turkey airlifted troops into northern Iraq.
Since then, at least six Iraqi civilians have been killed as Turkish jets pound PKK targets, and several villages in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region have been evacuated.
Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s Iraqi government is two months old and his Cabinet is still incomplete, there is an Iran problem, a militia problem, a [ISIS] problem, a financial crisis, an epidemic, and there is a revolution at Baghdad’s gates. Al-Kadhimi has high expectations from the US and even higher ones from the Iraqi people — so far, he is failing both.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed those concerns to the new prime minister back in May and pledged to support him to “deliver on his bold agenda for the sake of the Iraqi people.” Al-Kadhimi will visit the US this month to continue the strategic dialogue between the two countries. He needs Washington to continue to support Iraq financially and continue to provide training and equipment to the compromised Iraqi security forces, in which militias tied to Iran have primacy and control over Iraq.
Iraq’s protesters have great expectations and they are skeptical that Al-Kadhimi’s interim government can change things. The real power lies with the Council of Representatives, where parties tied to Tehran make up the majority and will decide on whether to hold new elections. These are the very same parties whose militias are killing protesters and attacking the US’ Baghdad mission to ensure the enduring defeat of [ISIS].
Qais Khazali, who heads an Iranian-backed terror militia group, warned the PM to stay in his lane just days after counterterrorism forces last month conducted a raid against a Kata’ib Hezbollah cell. Khazali reminded Al-Kadhimi that he is only an interim prime minister and that he should focus on holding new elections — elections that Khazali will not allow to happen.