Published On: Sat, Jan 7th, 2017

Baghdad and Ankara Agree to Withdraw Turkish Troops from Iraq – How Did They Get There?

nsnbc : Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, on Saturday, said that Iraq and Turkey had reached an agreement on the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Iraq. Turkish troops have been in the country without authorization from the Iraqi federal government or a UN Security Council mandate since December 2015.

al-abadi_yildirim_baghdad_iraq_jan-2016The announcement about the agreement was made on Iraqi State television after a meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Baghdad. Very few details about the agreement were announced to the public or made available to the press. However, Turkey reportedly agreed to the Iraqi demand to withdraw Turkish forces from the town of Bashiqa near Mosul in northern Iraq.

Turkish troops have been stationed there since December 2015, purportedly as part of the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). However, as a source close to the recently reelected Lebanese PM Saad Hariri revealed to nsnbc international, Turkish government circles have been actively involved in stating the invasion of Iraq by ISIL.

The very well connected Lebanese source met nsnbc international editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann and provided evidence that underpinned that the final green light for the war on Iraq with ISIS or ISIL brigades was given behind closed doors, at the sidelines of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 22 – 23, 2013.

Al-Abadi was quoted by State media as saying that Turkey pledged to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq” and that Baghdad and Ankara agreed not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs.

The row between Iraq and Turkey that dates as far back as 2012 – 13, escalated in October 2016 over the continued presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa and elsewhere in northern Iraq, with each government summoning the other’s ambassador just as the U.S.-backed and Iranian backed campaign to drive ISIL out of Mosul was set to begin.

There are 800 Turkish troops deployed in the Mosul and Shaqlawa regions, the move that sparked a crisis between Ankara and Baghdad. Turkey sent a contingent of an additional 150 forces and 25 tanks in December 2015 to bolster its military presence in the Bashiqa camp, an area that has seen recent fighting. All of these troops were deployed to Iraq against the expressed protest of Iraq’s federal government in Baghdad, in violation of Iraqi sovereignty, and without an authorization from the UN Security Council.

In December 2015 the Iraqi government protested against the unannounced arrival of hundreds of Turkish troops in the country. On  October 5,  2016 the Iraqi parliament rejected the extension of an intermediate mandate for Turkish troops that had been granted “after the fact” and after Turkey had committed what, according to international law amounts to a crime against peace.

On October 6, 2016, Iraq requested that the UN Security Council (UNSC) urgently discuss Turkey’s illegal military presence in Iraq as the dispute with Ankara over the troops escalated. The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned the Turkish Ambassador again in October 2016 to protest the continued presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq without Baghdad’s permission.

Turkey “Fighting ISIL in Iraq?
A briefing slide released by the Multi-National Force - Iraq on July 18, 2007. The organizational chart includes a white box representing the position of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last in 2013.

A briefing slide released by the Multi-National Force – Iraq on July 18, 2007. The organizational chart includes a white box representing the position of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last in 2013.

Turkish troops never actively participated in military ground campaigns against ISIL in Iraq. The complexity of the situation becomes more evident when one returns to the above mentioned statement by the source to then former, and the recently reelected Lebanese PM Saad Hariri.

The “trusted source” close to the Saudi – Lebanese multi-billionaire and former Lebanese P.M. Saad Hariri met nsnbc international editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann and told on condition of anonymity, that the final green light for the war on Iraq with ISIS or ISIL brigades was given behind closed doors, at the sidelines of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 22 – 23, 2013.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential U.S. think tanks with regard to U.S. and NATO foreign policy and geopolitics. Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe stressed the importance of the Energy Summit and the situation in the Middle East before the summit in November, saying:

“We view the current period as a turning point, just like 1918 and 1945. Turkey is in every way a central country, as a creator of regional stability. However much the USA and Turkey can work in unison, that is how effective they will be.”

The summit was, among others, attended by Turkey’s then President Abdullah Gül, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernst Monitz, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.

It is noteworthy that Scowcroft has long-standing ties to Henry Kissinger and to the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdish Administrated Region of Northern Iraq.

“Had Baghdad been more cooperative about the Syrian oil fields at Deir-Ez-Zor in early 2013 and about autonomy for the North [Iraq’s northern, predominantly Kurdish region] they would possibly not have turned against al-Maliki; Or he would have been given more time”,said the Hariri insider during the almost two-hour-long conversation.

In April 2013 the EU lifted its ban on the import of Syrian oil from "rebel held territory to finance the opposition".

In April 2013 the EU lifted its ban on the import of Syrian oil from “rebel held territory to finance the opposition”.

In March 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Iraq “stops the arms flow to Syria”, while U.S. weapons were flowing to ISIS via Saudi Arabia into Iraq and Jordan.

On Monday, April 22, 2013, 27 of the 28 E.U. foreign ministers agreed to lift the ban on the import of Syrian oil from opposition-held territories to allow the “opposition” to finance part of its campaign.

“ISIS that was supposed to control [the region around] Deir Ez-Zor. [Turkish Energy Minister Taner] Yildiz and [Kurdish] Energy Minister Ashti] Hawrami were to make sure the oil could flow via the Kirkuk – Ceyhan [pipeline];… Ankara put al-Maliki under a lot of pressure about the Kurdish autonomy and oil, too much pressure, too early, if you’d ask me”, the source said. He added that the pressure backfired.

Previous reports confirmed that Baghdad started intercepting weapons and insurgents along the Saudi – Iraqi border, cutting off important supply lines for ISIS brigades around Deir Ez-Zor, and that Al-Maliki began complaining about a Saudi – Qatari-backed attempt to subvert the Iraqi State since late 2012. Noting my remark he replied:

“That is right, but the heavy increase in attacks came in May – June 2013, after al-Maliki ordered the military to al-Anbar “.

ISIS routes to Syria via Al-Anbar since 2012. Map Plottings: Red, Agha H. Amin. Blue, Christof Lehmann.

ISIS routes to Syria via Al-Anbar since 2012. Map Plottings: Red, Agha H. Amin. Blue, Christof Lehmann.

A previous article in nsnbc explains how Baghdad’s blockade caused problems in Jordan, because many of the transports of weapons, fighters and munitions had to be rerouted via Jordan.

The Hariri insider added that the oil fields should have been under ISIS control by August 2013, but that the plan failed for two reasons. The UK withdrew its support for the bombing of Syria. That in turn enabled the Syrian army to dislodge both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusrah from Deir Ez-Zor in August.

“The situation was a disaster because in June Hariri, Yidiz, Hawrami, Scowcroft, and everybody was ready to talk about how to share the oil between the U.S., Turkey and E.U.. The Summit in November should have dealt with a fait accompli”, the Hariri source stressed, adding that Washington put a gun to al-Maliki’s head when he was invited to the White House.

Both the President of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki were invited to Washington in early November 2013. “Certain circles in Washington put a hell of a lot of pressure on Obama to put a gun to al-Maliki’s head”, said the Hariri source, adding that “time was running out and Obama was hesitant”. Asked what he meant with “time was running out” and if he could specify who it was that pushed Obama, he said:

“Barzani was losing his grip in the North (Kurdish Iraq); the election [in September] was a setback. All plans for distributing Iraqi oil via Turkey and for sidelining Baghdad were set between Kirkuk and Ankara in early November…

“Who exactly pressured Obama? I don’t know who delivered the message to Obama. I suspect Kerry had a word. It’s more important from where the message came, Kissinger, Scowcroft, Nuland and the Keagan clan, Stavridis, Petreaus, Riccardione, and the neo-con crowd at the [Atlantic] Council. … As far as I know ´someone` told Obama that he’d better pressure al-Maliki to go along with Kurdish autonomy by November or else. Who exactly ´advised` Obama is not as important as the fact that those people let him know that they would go ahead, with, or without him”.

Asked whether he knew details, how the final green light for the ISIS campaign was given, he said:

” Behind closed doors, in the presence of both Scowcroft, Hariri, and a couple of other people”. To my question “if he could be more specific” he replied “I could; I want to stay alive you know; Riccardione was tasked with the operation that day”.

Noting that a prominent member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Abdul Rachman al-Faisal has been named as the one being “in command” of the ISIS brigades, and if he could either confirm or deny, he nodded, adding that “the Prince” is responsible for financing the operation and for part of the command structure, but that the operations headquarter is the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Turkey. “As far as I know, nothing moves without Ambassador Ricciardone”, he added.

Noting that a prominent member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Abdul Rachman al-Faisal has been named as the one being “in command” of the ISIS brigades, and if he could either confirm or deny, he nodded, adding that “the Prince” is responsible for financing the operation and for part of the command structure, but that the operations headquarter is the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Turkey. “As far as I know, nothing moves without Ambassador Ricciardone”, he added. nsnbc has seen documentary and audio evidence that substantiated the deposition.

F/AK  & CH/L – nsnbc 07.01.2016

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