United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed the hope that the governments of Iraq and Turkey will exercise restraint, including in their public statements, and intensify their bilateral discussions to diffuse tensions after Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq earlier this month to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Security Council was told in a briefing this evening.
“The Secretary-General urges all Member States involved in the fight against ISIL in Iraq to do so in a manner that is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and which respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Council today after a briefing on the situation.
He said that since the closed door briefing to the Security Council on 8 December 2015 by UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenea on the Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq, Baghdad and Ankara have held high-level bilateral discussions on this issue.
Mr. Feltman noted that on 10 December 2015, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, met with a senior Turkish delegation, dispatched by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu. The delegation was headed by the Turkish Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Service. Prime Minister al-Abadi stated after the meeting that he had reiterated earlier statements on the matter and said that 'the only way to resolve the crisis is the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Iraqi territory.'
“The delegation had, according to the Turkish Prime Minister, agreed 'to re-arrange the military personnel of the Turkish security force,” the UN political chief said. Continuing, he noted that on 10 December, Turkish President Erdogan stated at a news conference that 'the number of [Turkish] soldiers might increase or decrease depending on the number of Peshmerga being trained.' And on the following day, 11 December, Prime Minister al-Abadi issued a statement that he had instructed the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs 'to submit a formal complaint...on the Turkish incursion' to the Security Council.
Updating the Council on events that took place earlier in the week, Mr. Feltman said that on 14 December, Turkey publicly announced that some of its troops had recently entered Iraq had begun leaving the Bashiqa area as part of a re-arrangement. Further, he said that According to a 16 December statement from the Turkish General Staff, two Iraqis were killed and four Turkish troops were wounded when the training base in Bashiqa, in northern Iraq was targeted by rocket fire from positions under ISIL control.
Telling the Council that the Secretary-General expresses the hope that the Governments of Iraq and Turkey will exercise restraint, including in their public statements, and intensify their bilateral discussion, Mr. Feltman also noted that in the current context, the UN Special Representative for Iraq, Jan Kubiš, has been actively engaging the Government of Iraq and Turkish diplomatic representatives to discuss this situation.