In a series of blitz phone calls to Turkish leaders, Vice-President Joe Biden has recommended Turkey remove its detachment of troops from Camp Bashiqa inside Iraq.
The exchange between Mr. Biden and Turkish leaders follows reports which revealed some Turkish troops had begun a withdrawing from the base on December 14.
“The Vice President reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces from Iraqi territory that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government,” the White House said in a statement.
Turkey initially stated its early December troop deployment near ISIS-occupied Mosul was to meet security concerns; Ankara then announced troops and a small number of armored vehicles were sent at the request of the Iraqi government. Baghdad denies any invitation was sent to Turkey.
The Iraqi government protested the presence of Turkish troops and originally sought NATO assistance but immediately threatened to call on the United Nations (UN) to introduce a resolution to demand the withdrawal of Turkish troops from their territory.
Baghdad formally requested the UN Security Council to weigh a resolution on Friday demanding Turkey leave Iraqi territory.
“Iraq has spared no effort to exhaust all diplomatic channels and bilateral negotiations with Turkey, in order to withdraw its forces that are unauthorized in Iraq,” said Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said.
Stating a request to the UN was Iraq’s last resort, Al-Jaafari proposed a two-article resolution. The first component condemns the Turkish “occupation and invasion” of sovereign Iraqi territory; the second insists a recognition of borders and an immediate withdrawal of all Turkish troops from Iraq.
Following deliberations in the UN, Turkey announced it would remove further troops but declined to say how many troops would leave and did not give a schedule for a complete withdrawal of its contingent of ground forces.
In a statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday, Ankara acknowledged “miscommunication” with Baghdad and pledged the removal of troops.
[Reuters] [RT News] [mfa.gov.tr] [BBC] [Photo courtesy RT News]