Breakthrough Web Design - 641-201-1459 - Build Your Online Presence
News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the North Iowa Region
• Founded 2010

Rockets hit Turkey’s embassy in Iraq amid rising acrimony


This news story was published on January 19, 2012.
Advertise on NIT Subscribe to NIT

By Sahar Issa, McClatchy Newspapers –

BAGHDAD — A rocket attack on Turkey’s embassy in Baghdad this week has highlighted the rapid deterioration in relations between Turkey and Iraq, a development tied to Turkish criticism of the detention of opposition politicians by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack, in which assailants fired three rockets at the embassy. But the timing of the assault, just days after an acrimonious exchange between al-Maliki and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raised suspicions that al-Maliki sympathizers were responsible.

“The attack against the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad reflects the government’s failure to secure foreign embassies,” Maysoon al Damaluji, a spokeswoman for Iraq’s Iraqiya movement, a secular political bloc that is a frequent critic of al-Maliki’s policies, said in a statement Thursday. She demanded that the government step up security to make sure similar attacks are prevented.

“We are concerned lest Iraq become an arena for regional conflicts that would affect Iraq’s stability and the safety of its people,” she said.

Turkish news accounts said three rockets were fired at the embassy and quoted the Turkish ambassador, Yunis Dimirar, as saying one struck an exterior wall but did little damage. It was not known where the other two rockets fell.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, and Iraq, which only a month ago saw the last U.S. troops leave after nearly eight years of American occupation, have found themselves on opposite sides of a growing number of issues in recent months.

Turkey has demanded that Iraq crack down on Kurdish rebels who Turkey claims use Iraqi territory to launch attacks inside Turkey. Turkey also is supporting sanctions against Iran, which has drawn increasingly close to Iraq’s government, and has called for the ouster of Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad, who still enjoys the backing of the al-Maliki government.

But the source of the most recent tension is al-Maliki’s accusations that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al Hashemi, Iraq’s most senior Sunni Muslim politician and a member of the Iraqiya bloc, orchestrated terrorist attacks by his bodyguards. Al-Maliki is a Shiite Muslim who has often been accused of pressing sectarian claims in his administration. Hashemi is known to be close to Turkey, which is widely believed to have funneled money to Iraqiya, a secular political alliance that enjoys widespread Sunni support, during the most recent election campaign.

Last week, Turkey’s Erdogan used a meeting with the speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Osama al Nujaifi, to criticize al-Maliki’s charges against Hashemi, who currently has taken refuge in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, out of reach of al-Maliki-controlled security forces.

“For us, Iraq is like Syria. Any sort of conflict to erupt from there would affect the entire region. We cannot remain indifferent to the developments,” Erdogan said. “Those who seek out or do not obstruct a sectarian war, will never be able to recover from such a plague.”

The next day, al-Maliki accused Turkey of interfering in Iraqi affairs. “Turkey is playing a role that may result in catastrophe and civil war in the region, a war that will harm Turkey itself,” he said.

On Monday, Iraq’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Jawad al Doski, summoned the Turkish ambassador to a meeting to convey Baghdad’s concern regarding “Turkish officials’ statements.”

In response, the Iraqi ambassador in Turkey was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and informed that Turkey had no choice but to be concerned by possibly destabilizing issues on the other side of its border with Iraq.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available