“Neo-Ottomanism” is one of the most important discourses for analyzing Turkey’s foreign policy measures and behaviors in the political, security, military and economic fields. The Turkish government, especially during the rule of the Justice and Development Party, has paid a lot of attention to Neo-Ottomanism and has largely defined its foreign policy approaches and strategies in its format; although there are many political, security, etc. “inhibitors” that have prevented Ankara from emphasizing this discourse more clearly.
Dimensions, details of Turkish artillery attacks on Iraq
Turkey’s recent artillery attacks on a tourist center in Duhok Governorate, located in northern Iraq, should be analyzed in line with Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman policy. Turkey, which has deployed 4,000 troops and 105 small and large military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and has penetrated to a depth of 100 kilometers into Iraqi territory has recently attacked areas of northern Iraq, including the recreational and tourist center “Zakho”; although it has not yet taken responsibility for it and has attributed those deadly attacks to PKK!
Triple targets of attacks
Regarding the objectives of Turkey’s military interventions in northern Iraq, three categories of objectives can be identified:
First, the “strategic and long-term” objectives that can be defined under Neo-Ottomanism, including increasing the strategic depth in Iraq, easy and cheap access to oil and gas resources, and mastering the branches of trade and commerce corridors from East to west that pass through Iraq. According to its claim regarding the 1925 agreement, Turkey still insists that vast territories from Nineveh Governorate to Kirkuk Governorate and the oil-rich part of Mosul should belong to that country, so it is seeking to take possession of those areas in any way.
Second, “short-term and immediate” objectives, which mainly include political and especially electoral motives. The experiences of the past decade have shown that “militarization of foreign policy” and the intensification of military activities abroad have an effective role in rebuilding the political position of the Justice and Development Party and Erdogan himself in the months leading up to the elections.
Third, “mid-term and tactical” objectives, which include the dismantling of PKK military bases.
Repetition and expansion of military interventions in northern Iraq can have unforeseen consequences for Turkey. Targeting centers and areas in northern Iraq, where a large number of civilians (mainly women and children) were also killed and injured this time, is considered as a “severe violation” of Iraq’s sovereignty, security and territorial red lines.
This issue, which has seriously wounded the feelings and emotions of the Iraqi people and has faced the sharp reactions of public opinion, personalities and various political movements and especially the Islamic Resistance groups, will definitely be “problematic” for the Turkish government.
a) Political
In political dimensions, such attacks, whose victims were children and women, including a one-year-old child, will destroy Erdogan’s political image in the region and even in the public opinion inside Turkey by inciting and inciting people’s anger. If this issue continues, it can become a political and human rights “Achilles heel” on the eve of the 2023 presidential election for the Justice and Development Party and Erdogan himself, who has used all his means to win it.
b) Security
In terms of security, the repetition of artillery attacks in northern Iraq provokes a serious and decisive reaction of the Islamic Resistance groups with the support of the people against Turkey, which of course is happening now. Expulsion of Turkish forces and collection of military bases of that country from Iraq has now become a national demand not only among senior officials but also in the public opinion of Iraq and has opened the hands of the Islamic resistance to adopt “legal” and “field” measures to expel Turkey.
With regard to the software and hardware capabilities that the Islamic Resistance of Iraq takes advantage of and has repeatedly demonstrated against the American invaders, if Turkey does not end its military interventions in Iraqi territory and the security and integrity of this country does not retreat, it will be faced with the intensification of “negative reactions” among the Resistance groups and the Iraqis, which can be expensive for Turkey and even the Justice and Development Party government will face internal tensions.
c) Economic
In economic terms, Turkey cannot be safe from the consequences of military interventions in Iraq. Right now, the boycott of Turkish-related goods and shopping centers in Iraq has become a serious demand among the people. The amount of Turkish exports to Iraq was about 12 billion dollars in 2021 alone, which is 5 percent of Turkey’s total exports to foreign countries. It is not far from expectation that this figure will decrease drastically due to the events that have occurred.
In addition, an important part of Turkey’s tourism income is provided by Iraqi tourists, which is about 4 billion dollars annually. If the Iraqi government places Turkey as a prohibited country for tourism, or if Iraqi citizens voluntarily refuse tourism in Turkey, that country will suffer about 4 billion dollars.
Final word
Iraq can no longer tolerate Turkey’s war-mongering and sporadic attacks on its territory. Only the decisive will and decision of the Resistance groups and Hashd al-Shaabi is enough to remove all Turkish military bases and assembly centers from northern Iraq in the shortest possible time.
Recently, the Resistance groups have emphasized that if the Ankara government does not withdraw its forces from Iraq, they will resort to military means to expel Turkey. Considering the experience that the Islamic Resistance of Iraq has in confronting the United States and in the past two years it has been able to dismantle many American forces and bases from different parts of Iraq, the expulsion of Turkey from Iraq, which is in a weaker position compared to the United States in every respect, it is not a difficult task for it.