Turkey summoned Iraq’s chargé d’affaires on Tuesday, in a tit-for-tat move, one day after Baghdad summoned Turkey’s ambassador. Iraq, locked in a public row with neighboring Turkey, summoned Ankara’s ambassador in Baghdad on Sunday to protest critical remarks made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkish ambassador to Baghdad Yunus Demirer, heard the Iraqi complaint on Sunday after several days of charge and counter-charge.
Turkey, in turn, summoned the Iraqi charge d’affaires Sudat Khidir on Tuesday and told him that the latest statements by Iraqi officials condemning Turkey are unacceptable. Foreign Ministry officials told the Iraqi envoy that Iraq’s peace and stability is a matter of priority for Turkey with the situation in Iraq having direct repercussions in Turkey.
Erdoğan accused his Iraqi counterpart Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday of stoking conflict between Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Kurds through “self-centered” behavior.
Maliki fired back saying that Turkey was becoming a “hostile state” with a sectarian agenda, saying it was meddling in Iraqi affairs and trying to establish regional “hegemony.” “If we respond to Mr. Maliki, we give him the opportunity to show off,” said Erdoğan as he returned to the fray on Saturday.
Analysts say mainly Sunni Turkey is worried that growing tensions in Iraq, and violence in their mutual neighbor Syria may lead to a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region.
Turkish officials also conveyed a message to Iraq during the meeting, saying that Iraqis are brothers of Turks and that Turkey is rejecting sectarian and ethnic-based policies in the war-torn country. Turkish diplomats also told the Iraqi envoy that Turkey strongly rejects the summoning of Turkish ambassador to Baghdad on Sunday.