‘Turkey will work with Iraq to ease tension in Middle East’

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

“Iraq is not alone, Turkey will work with Baghdad to overcome difficult days,” Mevlut Çavusoglu said during the joint presser with Iraq’s foreign minister Mohamed Al al-Hakim…reports Asian Lite News

ANKARA, June 25, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, Turkey, on June 25, 2019. Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed to learn lessons from "the messages that given by people" in June 23 re-elections in Istanbul at which his ruling party suffered a historic blow. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya/IANS) by .
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya/IANS)

Turkey said it wanted to avoid Iraq becoming a stage for a proxy war and urged parties involved in the ongoing United States-Iran crisis to refrain from violating Iraqi sovereignty.

Iraq’s foreign minister, Mohamed Al al-Hakim, welcomed his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Çavusoglu to Baghdad to discuss the tensions, Efe news rported on Thursday.

“Iraq is not alone, Turkey will work with Baghdad to overcome difficult days,” Çavusoglu said during the joint presser with al-Hakim.

“Turkey does not want Iraq to become foreign forces’ battle zone,” Çavusoglu said.

The Iraqi minister stressed that both parties agreed to work to ease the tension in the region between the US and Iran.

“Any escalation in the region would strengthen the abilities of Daesh (The Islamic State terror organization in its Arabic acronym),” he added.

BAGHDAD, Oct. 24, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Adel Abdul Mahdi (Front) arrives at the parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, on Oct. 24, 2018. Adel Abdul Mahdi on Wednesday was sworn in as new prime minister of Iraq after the parliament passed 14 out of his 22 cabinet members. (Xinhua/IANS) by .
Adel Abdul Mahdi (Front)

The tension has recently escalated in the wake of a US strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a commander of the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for implementing the Iranian regime’s foreign policies.

The US attack also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi Shia militia.

The killing of both represents a “dangerous escalation in the region,” according to the Turkish minister.

In response, Iran attacked two bases housing US troops in western and northern Iraq on Wednesday.

“We condemn and reject the attacks that take place on Iraqi soil because it represents a violation to the Iraqi sovereignty,” al-Hakim said.

Following the US attack that killed Soleimani, Iraq’s parliament approved a resolution asking the government to put an end to the presence of American troops in Iraq.

“All foreign troops need to leave (Iraq),” al-Hakim said before clarifying that the troops’ withdrawal has to be agreed “through diplomatic and dialogue”.

Çavusoglu met with Iraqi president Barham Salih earlier in the day.

According to a statement from his office, Salih stressed the importance of cooperation so “Iraq and the entire region can avoid conflicts and wars.”

In the meantime, the US-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State terror organisation has partly suspended activities in Iraq until its status in the Arab country is clarified

TEHRAN, Jan. 4, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A woman holds a poster of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander, during a mourning ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. An attack near Baghdad International Airport on Friday has killed Qasem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhamdis, the deputy top leader of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/IANS) by .
A woman holds a poster of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander, during a mourning ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/IANS)

“We await further clarification on the legal nature and impact of the resolution on foreign troops no longer being allowed to stay in Iraq, passed on Sunday 5 January by the Iraqi parliament,” the coalition posted to its Twitter account.

In the meantime, the coalition “has currently paused military activities in Iraq to focus on protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition personnel.”

“Although military activities have been paused for the time being, other activity continues as normal including countering Daesh’s (IS’s) harmful propaganda, stabilisation and disrupting their finances,” the coalition added.

The coalition, comprised of over 50 countries, began its mission in Iraq in mid-2014 when IS controlled vast swathes of the country.

Since then, it has provided the Iraqi government with military support, advice and weaponry to fight the extremists over the past few years.

Iraq announced it had defeated the radical group in late 2017, but the coalition’s activities continued beyond then.