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While claiming “We will both participate in the operation and negotiations” regarding the Mosul Operation against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) on one hand, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) bring forward the arguments of historical bonds and the neighbourliness between Turkey and Iraq on the other.
But, should Turkey participate in the operation and the negotiations at all? Are the reasons argued by Turkey true and valid? What is the intention behind the discourse of Misak-ı Milli* borders promoted regularly by the President?
We have asked the Ege University International Relations lecturer Asst. Prof. Dr. Argun Başkan the abovementioned questions.
What Turkey needs to do
Which attitude should Turkey adopt for the Mosul operation against ISIS?
First of all, what Turkey needs to do is to give priority to settle the matter of local armed conflicts by establishing an environment of reconciliation.
Second, if the refugee problem is on the carpet, Turkey should treat the issue within the scope of United Nations (UN) practices.
Only if there is an actual attack directly targeting Turkey, then Turkey could launch an operation as a response.
Be it in Syria or in Irak, Turkey should launch no operations to change the regime.
The current borders should be preserved and protected; that way the attacks on Turkey should be prevented, the refugees be helped, diplomatic mediation be undertaken and an environment of reconciliation be established but that must be it and Turkey should stop there.
Because otherwise discourses such as being a “great power” and “Ottoman Empire” is not being accepted by anyone in the Middle East.
“Anyone could be related to anywhere if historical bonds are the issue”
By saying we should participate “both in the operations and negotiations” Turkey argues that the states which indeed are involved in the operations and negotiations do neither have historical bonds with Mosul nor have borders to Iraq. In this sense they claim that Turkey should also participate…
From a simplistic point of view; if this argument is based on historical bonds, the mentioned states-call it colonialism or an act of occupancy- were present in Syria and Iraq during the World War 1.
Besides, equalizing Turkey and the Ottoman Empire is a problematic approach. Let’s say, it’s true; are they planning to expand to the whole geography of the old Ottoman Empire? Meaning, is there going to be an involvement in Morocco and Tunisia also? This is an open-ended expression.
If we give a look at today’s practices; the ones who carry out the operation are Iraqi Central Government and its allies.
But if we look at the historical bonds, everybody could somehow be related to any region. If a political action is to be taken, only a relation between states should be formed. It is the Iraqi Government which needs to be addressed at this point.
“Misak-ı Milli and Lausanne Treaties are problematic”
President Erdoğan has been speaking of Misak-ı Milli for the last two days. What is the intention behind bringing Misak-ı Milli to agenda in these days?
The first concern is the popularity issue in domestic politics.
Meaning, are they trying to set ground for the presidential system and get nationalists’ votes?
On the other hand, I am saying this with regards to international relation; if a president is saying “this and that agreements have expired or are insufficient”, she/he probably means “let’s make another agreement” or “if not, then we will enforce a new agreement ourselves using weapons”.
If a leader begins the sentence saying “the Lausanne Treaty is insufficient” the issue can get out of hand. Criticizing an agreement in such terms leaves it open, what the agreement should be replaced with.
At that case, one could also bring the Kars Treaty to agenda. Russia for instance had implied during Syria crisis;“İf necessary, we open the Kars Treaty and Turkey’s eastern borders to discussion”.
I find the discussion on Misak-ı Milli and Lausanne Treaty problematic. I do not know what exactly its real intention or profit is.
“Turkey’s militaristic expansion undesirable”
How do you interpret the Baghdad (Central) Government insisting on not having Turkey participate in the negotiations despite Turkey’s arguments?
Baghdad (Central) Government has the right to want to exclude any state, this is a domestic decision. Also the allies comply with the decision of the Iraqi Government.
This picture demonstrates that there is very little sympathy for Turkey’s new discourse of “Ottomanism”.
Iraq, Kurdish Government in Southern Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel and many other states do not want Turkey’s militaristic expansion. (EKN/DG)
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