Nine Iraqi citizens were killed and 33 others wounded following Turkish artillery attacks on the recreation area of “Parakh” in Duhok Governorate located in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on July 20. In response to the Turkish measure, the Iraqi government complained to the UN Security Council on July 27, and some rocket attacks were carried out on Turkish interests in Iraq, including the Turkish consulate in Mosul Province.
The fact is that Turkey’s recent attacks on Iraqi soil are not a new thing, and this time, because the Iraqi losses were Arab citizens of southern Iraq, it sparked a strong reaction from political movements, elites, parties, various government institutions, etc.
Since 1983, Turkey has repeatedly carried out military operations in northern Iraq, which is under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, under the pretext of fighting the “Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party” known as PKK.
In 1983, with the tacit approval of Saddam Hussein, Turkish military forces penetrated three miles into that country’s territory under the pretext of fighting the “Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party” bases in northern Iraq. Following the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein’s army from the Kurdistan Region in 1991, the depth of penetration of Turkish military forces expanded to 15 to 25 miles and even established a military base inside Iraq to conduct operations against the PKK.
With the formation of ISIS in Syria and then the conquest of parts of Iraq, the ground was created for PKK military forces to penetrate into that area to liberate the city of Sinjar from ISIS and help the Izadi Kurds who had fled to the mountains and from there to Kurdish region of northern Syria.
In the next stage in northern Syria, the Kurdish community established the “Democratic Union” Party and created a military wing for their party under the title “People’s Protection Units” known as YPG. This party and its military wing were supported by the United States and European governments to fight ISIS, and Washington still continues to support them.
The Turkish government believes that the “Democratic Union” Party and its military branch affiliated with the “Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party” are seeking to endanger the territorial integrity and national security of that country. For this reason, in addition to Turkey’s continuous military operations in northern Iraq, Ankara has also occupied parts of northern Syria with its supported forces and claims that Turkey’s “safe areas” in northern Syria should be expanded. For this reason, Turkey is seeking to conduct a new military operation in northern Syria, specifically west of the Euphrates River, to occupy the two cities of “Manbij” and “Tal Rifaat” in the north of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
From what has happened so far, it can be clearly seen that Turkey has expanded the depth of its struggle with the “Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party” from Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq to many parts of northern Iraq and northern Syria.
Also, under the pretext of fighting ISIS, in 2014 Turkey was able to establish a military base in the “Zilkan” region, located in the north of Mosul and in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which is 50 miles away from the Turkish border.
In Syria, the Turkish government has managed to put the major part of Idlib Province, north of Aleppo city and parts of the Kurdish region of northern Syria under the control of its supported forces and establish military bases there.
It should be noted that by deploying advanced military equipment in its military bases in Iraq and Syria, Turkey has greatly developed the possibility of deepening its intervention in the territory of those two countries. For example, Turkey’s “flagship” drones in many cases penetrate up to 175 miles deep into Iraqi territory and carry out operations.
In the meantime, the Democratic Party of Iraqi Kurdistan, which controls the provinces of Erbil, Duhok and parts of Mosul Province, due to its historical enmity with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, welcomes Turkey’s military operations against the PKK, in northern Iraq and even Syria.
Also, some Iraqi Sunni groups consider Turkey’s presence and military intervention in northern Iraq as a deterrent against Shiite military groups. This situation has caused Turkey’s intervention and military presence in northern Iraq and even Syria to face less opposition, and only when Turkish military operations have high human casualties, periodic protests are raised in Baghdad.
Several important conclusions can be made from Turkey’s intervention and military presence in northern Iraq and Syria: First, Turkey’s military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party have not been successful since the 1980s, because today not only the scope of operations is not limited to the PKK, but also their operational scope has also spread deeper than northern Iraq and Syria.
Second, Turkey’s political, military, and economic costs have been placed in an ever-increasing process due to the expansion of their military operations, which can intensify in the future and put more pressure on the crisis-prone economy of that country.
Third, carrying out military operations inside Iraq and violating the sovereignty of that country will lead to more tension and conflict between Baghdad and Ankara, which will have a negative impact on common issues such as water, energy, trade, etc.
Fourth, Turkey’s military operations in northern Iraq and against the US allies in northern Syria will also complicate Ankara-Washington relations. Because Turkey’s operations are in some cases against the direct interests of the United States, especially in northern Syria.
In the end, it should be said that Turkey’s military operations in Iraq and Syria will continue and intensify instability in northern Iraq and Syria.