Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Friday that Iraq’s complaint to the UN Security Council over a recent Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq was “not a sincere step”.
According to a statement by the Iraqi Prime Ministry press office, the Iraqi foreign ministry was told to lodge a complaint concerning Turkish troops’ presence in Bashiqa, near Mosul.
“They can apply to the United Nations Security Council,” said Erdogan on Al Jazeera. “This is their natural right, but it is not a sincere step.”
Approximately 150 Turkish soldiers and 20 to 25 tanks were deployed near Mosul on Dec. 4 to reportedly replace training forces already in the area, leading to tensions between Ankara and Baghdad.
“During a visit to Turkey in 2014, [Iraqi PM Haider al-] Abadi demanded [Turkish troops] for training,” he said. “After these demands, we set up the Bashiqa camp. They are aware of all of this.”
“They [Turkish troops] are more a training team rather than a combative force,” said Erdogan, adding that the training program was part of the fight against Daesh.
“I believe this [Iraq’s complaint to the UN] is based on Russia and Iran’s moves in the region,” he added.
The president said that Iran, Russia and Iraq were involved in “virtually establishing a sectarian authority” in the region.
Erdogan also addressed the downing of the Russian warplane on Nov. 24, which Ankara says violated Turkey’s airspace despite repeated warnings.
Erdogan dismissed the idea that the Russian jet was downed with the knowledge and coordination of Washington. “There is no such thing. But of course, we informed them afterwards,” he said.
Erdogan said that this was not Russia’s first violation of Turkish airspace.
“They did this in the Black Sea a year ago. They violated [Turkish airspace] for about 15 minutes. The plane was monitored at the time, but no such response was given. Then they did it again in Syria, and then they did it once again,” he said.
He added that Russia did not engage in a “serious fight” against Daesh in any part of the country.
“[Russia is] striking the Turkmen villages, but unfortunately, Russian planes are not hitting where Daesh is actually present,” he said, adding that Turkey shared “with the whole world” its data regarding the location of armed groups in Syria, which he said “is fully in line with NATO data”.
Following the downing of the plane, Russia announced a series of economic sanctions against Turkey and taken measures to cement its position in Syria near the Turkish border.
Erdogan said that Turkey was seeking to de-escalate the situation.
“However, as far as I can see, Russia still insists on tension,” he said. “And I also believe that here [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is carrying on in an emotional behavior. The most ideal is to keep on within the framework of diplomacy while respecting international law,” he said.
He noted Turkey had access to other markets that could dampen the effect of Russian economic sanctions.
Erdogan reminded the TV audience that any attack against Turkey was an attack against all of NATO
He also refuted allegations that he and his son were involved in purchasing oil from Daesh, adding that Turkey’s sources of oil were well-documented.
He added that Ankara seized 79 million liters of smuggled oil in 2014.