Anyone who thinks the Iraqi government’s outburst, the first of its kind since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, is entirely against the presence of Turkish forces on Iraqi soil is wrong. The total number of Turkish troops is 150 military personnel, and they are present in the vicinity of Mosul, which ISIS has been occupying for a year and a half now.
And anyone who thinks the escalating Russian threats against Turkish troops on the borders with north Syria are only against the Turks is also wrong, as this border area is a zone where armies and militias from across the world are competing.
Iran, Iraq and Russia’s mounting aggravation against Turkey implies this is a plan to curb Turkey and cancel its regional role, so that Tehran can become the decision-maker in Iraq and Syria, thus achieving its project without anyone confronting it in the region. This has been happening in a five-year crisis that has seen the U.S. retreat, and do nothing except issue statements of solidarity.
The Turkish battalion present outside Mosul arrived there at the invitation of the former governor of Mosul for the purpose of training the city’s young men who volunteered to defend their city after Iraqi government forces fled, and terrorists entered the governorate’s countryside. Mosul was left to ISIS, and the Popular Mobilization Forces did not choose to liberate it since the latter consists of sectarian Shiite militias and was actually formed by Iran as an alternative to the Iraqi army. It is therefore Iran who actually trains, equips and directs them.
Turkey will be the next target because Iran and Russia cannot be assured of their capabilities to dominate Iraq and Syria without getting Turkey internally preoccupied.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Truth be told, Iran and Russia cannot be blamed for their clear progress in the plan of regionally excluding Turkey and downgrading its role, as we are amid a huge regional confrontation and the Turkish government itself has done nothing significant to defend its interests during the past years of disturbances.
Turkey was not of aware of the threat, although it has certainly seen it as it is being gradually besieged by these two countries. The region’s characteristics are also changing against Turkey’s interests; therefore, Turkey will be the next target because Iran and Russia cannot be assured of their capabilities to dominate Iraq and Syria without getting Turkey internally preoccupied.
Muslim Brotherhood preoccupation
Turkey’s policy is lost in causes that have no value in the balance of regional struggle. Turkey occupied itself with marginal and media disputes like those related to its battle with Egypt or its support of opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood – affairs that are insignificant to Turkish national security. The value of the Muslim Brotherhood is equal to zero in the region’s formula and Egypt’s threat against Turkey is also zero. There’s nothing that justifies Ankara’s insistence to resume adopting this policy!
The characteristics of Iran’s plan to dominate the region have become clear. Iran has decided to neutralize the U.S. and NATO by granting them their major request of abandoning the military purposes of its nuclear program, and it has in fact succeeded at that. Then Iran began dominating Iraq and although its number one man, Nouri al-Maliki, was removed from power, it still managed to tighten its grip on political powers and it is currently the decision-maker there amid the incapability of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
At the same time, the first military power consisting of Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghani militias, formed of around 100,000 fighters, was established in Syria. Iran increased its influence by activating its alliance with Russia which sent more aerial and naval troops to Syria than the Soviet Union sent to the region during the Cold War.
Since Turkey is the regional power parallel to Iran, it’s become targeted via paralyzing its power in Syria and cancelling its presence in Iraq. The Turks cannot be alone held responsible for confronting the Iranian-Russian alliance which is driving forward in the Arab Middle East; however, Turkey is the most important. If Turkey does not reread the map of struggle and reposition itself, it will find itself in bigger trouble tomorrow.
Turkey is the one that primarily needs to revive a regional axis to confront the Iranian expansion. However, it cannot do that when among its priorities are causes like that of the Muslim Brotherhood, which for 30 years was an ally of the Iranian regime, which previously tried and failed to help them reach power in Egypt during the eras of former presidents Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 9, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
- Iraq: ISIS smuggles majority of oil via Turkey
- Turkey dubs Iran’s policies in Syria, Iraq as sectarian
- Iraq gives Turkish forces 48 hours to leave country
- Iraq tells Turkey to withdraw troops
- Turkey’s Erdogan says Russia should apologize after jet downing
- Turkey launches air strikes on PKK in Iraq and southeast Turkey