'Turkey to intervene if Iraq's sovereignty threatened'

'Turkey to intervene if Iraq's sovereignty threatened'

MHP deputy chairman slams planned referendum on secession of northern Iraq's Kurdish region

By Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) - Turkey has the right to intervene if Iraq’s territorial integrity is disrupted, an opposition lawmaker has told Anadolu Agency.

Mehmet Gunal, deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said this was in accordance with the 1926 Treaty of Ankara.

The treaty was signed between Turkey, the U.K. and Iraq to define the settlement of the frontier between Turkey and Iraq. Turkey signed the agreement on the condition that Iraq's territorial integrity is protected.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Gunal said a planned referendum on the independence of northern Iraq's Kurdish region was against international law.

He said Turkey should show the same determination in northern Iraq that it did during Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria.

"We should do the same thing for Mosul and Kirkuk, for Bashiqa camp, also in Tal Afar," he said.

Turkey has taken an active role in the global fight against Daesh in both Iraq and Syria. Turkish troops also provide training to local fighters in the town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul.

Operation Euphrates Shield began in August last year and concluded in March, under which Turkey aimed to safeguard the lives and property of its citizens. The operation also aimed to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.

-'Element of equilibrium'

Gunal said Turkey should also provide security to Turkmen in the region.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi Turkmen Front, a political movement in northern Iraq, strongly opposed a decision by Kirkuk’s provincial council calling for the Kurdish regional flag to be raised alongside Iraq’s national flag over the oil-rich city’s state institutions.

Turkmen also rejected a referendum scheduled to be held on Sept. 25 on whether the northern Kurdish region should formally secede from Iraq.

Gunal said Turkey, a “long-established state” was “an element of equilibrium” in the region.

"Turkey is liable to prevent issues which harm its interests, damage its independence and encourage the division of the country.

“Every operation and struggle for this will be unconditionally supported by the MHP, which also waits for the government to be decisive on these issues," he added.

Turkmen constitute Iraq’s third-largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds, with many Turkmen communities concentrated in disputed areas between Baghdad and Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.

While there are no official figures regarding Iraq’s Turkmen population, Turkmen officials put the number at about seven percent of Iraq’s roughly 33 million people.

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