Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 11
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
Turkey and Iraq today would be better dealing with a common enemy, the IS (aka ISIL, ISIS or Daesh), rather than going towards military confrontation with each other, Francis Ricciardone, Atlantic Council Vice President and the Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East believes.
"It seems to me they should both be on the same side, facing a common enemy in ISIS," Ricciardone, who is also the ex-US Ambassador to Turkey, told Trend.
He noted that while he was serving in Ankara as an ambassador, it was very clear to him that Turkey's highest officials saw the stability, security, and unity of Iraq as very much among Turkey's own vital national interests.
"Indeed they feared that [ex] PM Maliki was acting contrary to Iraq's own national unity," Ricciardone said. "So I hope that the two governments will communicate effectively to reduce the tensions between their forces, and re-focus on the common threat," he added.
Turkish Armed Forces' tank battalion deployed in the Iraqi province of Nineveh tasked to prepare the Kurdish Peshmerga military forces to fight the IS in the framework of an agreement with the Iraqi authorities.
Baghdad accused Turkey of military invasion and demanded the Turkish troops to left the country. A number of Iraqi MPs demanded from the authorities to launch a military operation against the Turkish troops.
With regard to the possibility of political tensions between Turkey and Iraq turning into military confrontation, Ricciardone said that the two countries must prevent such an outcome, which, he believes, would come at grave cost to their common interest in the security of their shared border regions, and their longer-term, inter-dependent strategic interests in the peace, security, and economic development not only of their respective nations, but also of the larger region.
"Defeating ISIS in Iraq is critically important to defeating them in Syria, and vice-versa," he added.
He also said that Iraq and Turkey each should be the other's main ally against the common threats that they face, and each other's leading economic partner as well.
Moreover, the US is the most powerful ally for both countries, Ricciardone believes.
"I hope that the fact of their shared alliance with the US, as well as the fact of the shared threat they face from ISIS, will prove decisive in bringing these two parties not only to avoid confrontation - but also to collaborate toward their vitally important national security interests," he said.
This is while earlier Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Ankara is not going to send new military units to Iraq, and also bring out the already existing military contingent.
Iraq also reportedly said it will impose economic sanctions on Ankara in response to the fact that Turkey doesn't bring out the tank battalion from the Iraqi province of Nineveh. To sign any contracts with Turkish companies can be prohibited for Iraqi companies as a part of the economic sanctions.
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