Iraq and Turkey intend to patch up their relationship: Syria is gaining ground. By Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker


The government of Syria is looking more secure in recent times compared with any other period since Gulf and NATO led nations supported sectarian forces and various terrorist groups against this country. Of course, daily terrorism in Syria and brutal Takfiri and al-Qaeda led affiliate forces are still causing mayhem in many parts of the country. However, the sham alliance against Syria is collapsing in many directions. Indeed, even smaller players in the anti-Syrian alliance like Hamas realize that the changing sands are underway. Therefore, Hamas is trying to distance itself from past rhetoric towards the government of Bashar al-Assad.
More significant to Syria is the demise of the ambitions of America and the United Kingdom towards the government of this nation. This applies to the receding threat of a direct military campaign led from the air and the enormous reduction in their respective ambitions of funneling vast amounts of military arms to various sectarian forces. It is now extremely difficult to imagine any outside intervention from powerful NATO nations because Turkey refuses to go it alone. Therefore, once President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron couldn’t win over their respective political chambers (Obama would have lost the vote to bomb Syria prior to Russia intervening) – and with the knowledge that the vast majority of American and British citizens are opposed to another brutal military conflict – then the die was cast for sectarian Gulf powers and the ambitions of Turkey.
At the same time, France, just like Turkey, also refuses to go it alone – or with conjunction with Turkey – therefore the failed direct military threat now appears over. Indeed, despite all the rhetoric of President Hollande in France, it is now clear that their invitation to Hezbollah is part of Hollande’s acknowledgement that the military angle can’t be achieved against the government of Syria. France clearly knows that Hezbollah is extremely sympathetic towards the government of Syria based on the need to defeat sectarianism, Takfiri forces, Salafi indoctrination and various terrorist groups and so forth. Therefore, one by one the forces of darkness are falling by the wayside and because of this reality Turkey is now hoping to patch up its relationship with Iraq.
In recent times the government of Iraq lambasted Turkey and certain Gulf powers for their policies of supporting sectarianism and terrorism in Syria. This was based on multiple factors but of major significance is the reality that the destabilization of Syria also triggered increased sectarianism and terrorism in Iraq. In other words, Iraq was sympathetic towards Syria based on the reality of this nation being blighted by sectarianism and terrorism. At the same time, it is in the national interest of Iraq to see the ending of outside meddling in Syria because instability in this nation means fresh chaos, carnage, and increased terrorism for Iraq.
Not surprisingly, it was President Abdullah Gül of Turkey who spoke about the need to herald a fresh start with Iraq. Sadly, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey can’t be trusted by regional powers because he changes like the wind and utters threats. Therefore, it was essential for Gül to break the ice and his words were reciprocated by Hashyar Zebari who is the Foreign Minister of Iraq.
Gül stated “As you know, there was a chill in ties with Iraq. Both Turkey and Iraq have realized that this should be eliminated. As you may recall, I had emphasized the importance of Iraq in my [opening] speech of Parliament. There is no clash of interests between the two countries…Both our Cabinet and the Iraqi side are aware of it. A conflict of interest between Iraq and Turkey is out of the question. We have always supported the territorial integrity and political union of Iraq, and we have always embraced Iraq every time.”
Zebari responded in kind by making it clear that all channels are open between Iraq and Turkey. He stated that“We have turned the old page and opened a new chapter in our relations.”
It appears that Turkey is accepting that its stance towards Syria can’t be won by proxy therefore now is the right time to start opening up to regional nations. Turkey may still not come on board when it comes to Syria in the near future but clearly the regional ambitions of Ankara have been blocked. This reality means that it is essential for Turkey to open up once more to many regional nations because of the damage caused by the Erdogan government. Also, issues related to energy, the Kurds, trade, and other important areas; means that stable relations with Iraq is in the national interest of Turkey.
Reuters reports that “Iraq has been particularly angered by Turkey’s involvement in the autonomous Kurdistan region’s oil and gas industry. Zebari said energy issues had not been discussed on Friday but would be on the agenda at subsequent meetings.”
“Another source of tension has been the presence in Turkey of fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death in Baghdad on charges of running death squads.” Therefore, it is incumbent on political elites in Ankara to build bridges once more with Iraq instead of enforcing bellicose policies towards this country.
Turkey also now fully understands that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is on the back-foot and that Saudi Arabia is opposed to Ankara’s meddling in this nation. This reality brought home the isolation of Turkey even within its so called circle of friends. In other words, the Erdogan government went for broke in order to increase its regional ambitions but now Turkey’s standing is broken because of the deeds of the current government of Turkey. Therefore, it would appear that more moderate forces in Turkey are starting to reshape Turkey’s foreign policy. At the same time, Erdogan remains shaken by the mass demonstrations which took place earlier this year against his dictatorial leadership.
Palestinians also sense that the tide is turning in Syria therefore Hamas is trying to scramble a new policy because of its vulnerability since the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Gatestone Institute reports that “In a speech in Gaza City last weekend, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh assured Syria and other Arab countries that his movement does not meddle in their internal affairs. “We never sided with [Arab] country against the other,” Haniyeh declared. “We are keen on a unified Arab and Islamic position toward the Palestinian cause.”
“Like Abbas, Haniyeh also called for a “political solution and national understandings” in solving Arab disputes.”
The government of Iraq fully understands that Turkey wants a way out despite the anti-Syrian policies of the Erdogan government.
Therefore, Zebari reported to Reuters that “What everybody is worried about is the increase in extremism … and in the collapse, lets say erosion, of the state of Syria, because that would create chaos in the entire region…A group like ISIL has made Iraq and Syria one front, and the movement of weapons and the movement of these elements has been a serious challenge to us daily.”
It now appears that individuals within powerful circles in Turkey are also fearful about the sectarian and Islamist terrorist monster that they helped to nurture. Also, with Turkey being a member of NATO then it was extremely embarrassing to have a NATO member openly assisting al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant terrorist organizations.
Syria still faces many difficult challenges ahead but clearly the armed forces of Syria can now openly attack various terrorist and sectarian forces. Obviously, until recent times then major areas of the Syrian armed forces were kept in reserve because of the genuine threat of international intervention. However, now it appears that only Qatar, Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda affiliates have the stomach to fuel the ongoing conflict in Syria. Also, with Egypt, Libya and Tunisia becoming increasingly alarmed by the internal threat from Takfiri forces then clearly more ratlines are being closed. Therefore, it is hoped that the government of Syria will be able to recover lost areas and that in time various terrorist and sectarian forces will be pushed out of all major cities.

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