News / Middle East

Turkey Playing Increasing Role in Iraq

Turkish soldiers in armored vehicles patrol in Sirnak province on the Turkish-Iraqi border, October 21, 2011.
Turkish soldiers in armored vehicles patrol in Sirnak province on the Turkish-Iraqi border, October 21, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Dorian Jones

The U.S. secretary of defense is visiting NATO ally Turkey. He arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, after attending a withdrawal ceremony Thursday in Bagdad of American troops all of whom are due to leave by the end of the month. With the U.S. withdrawal, Turkey is now being seen by Washington as playing a potential key role in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is spending two days in Turkey meeting the country's political leadership, with Iraq expected to be a key topic on the agenda.

The NATO allies are already increasingly cooperating in the region.

Last month, the U.S. transferred drones from Iraq to the Turkish airbase of Incirlik close to the Iraqi border.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University says with U.S. forces pulling out of Iraq at the end of the month, that cooperation will only deepen.

"I suppose many more drones, flying over Iraq in order to continue to monitoring things," said Ozel.  "And I guess they want Incirlik to be open, more open, to American use as well. Politically, they would want Turkey to make sure that things never get of hand between Kurds and Arabs. And in [a] way maintaining the autonomy or viability of the Kurdistan regional government territory."

The semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, which borders Turkey, is, according to observers, strategically important to Washington.

Last month, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Washington has proposed to take over the influential role of training Iraqi military personal, now that U.S. troops are pulling out.

"We have been contributing in training military elements in Iraq within the framework of NATO," said Unal.  "This issue has come up to the agenda, and of course, we will be considering it.

Such a move is seen as strengthening Turkey's influence in greater Iraq and countering what observers say is expected growing Iranian influence with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz for the Turkish daily Milliyet says Ankara shares Washington's concerns about growing Iranian influence in Iraq.

"The increase of the Iranian through Shia elements in Iraq, that is what Turkey will be worried about," added Idiz.  "And with Turkey there is a political competition going on for influence between Iran and Turkey."

Ankara has in the past few years been seeking to extend its political influence in Iraq. It reportedly backed a coalition of Sunni and secular groups led by Ayad Allawi in Iraq's general election last year, against the incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seen as being close to Tehran.

But international relations expert Soli Ozel says while Ankara may be willing to challenge Iranian influence, there is already growing irritation in Baghdad towards Ankara.

"It will want to play a role, but just last week, Maliki was rather curt about Turkey and what Turkey was trying to do," noted Ozel.  "So relations may not be that great. And that is not a surprise since Turkey did not want Maliki to be prime minister."

Any attempt by Ankara to challenge Iranian influence in Iraq will likely strain relations with Tehran. Those relations are already under pressure over Ankara's support for the opposition against Tehran's key ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  

Murat Bilhan, former senior Turkish diplomat and professor of international relations at Kultur University, says Iraq is part of a wider trend driving apart the once close allies.

"They have diverged, that is a fact," said Bilhan.  "It's a rival anyway - rival in central Asia, the Persian Gulf, Syria and the whole region."

That prospect, observers say, will be undoubtedly welcomed by Washington. The expected growing cooperation between Ankara and Washington on Iraq, they say, will only strengthen bilateral relations, which will only add to Tehran's angst.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid