Floating in the flood
Neighbours summon ambassadors
Turkey and Iraq summoned each other’s ambassadors yesterday to protest statements by one country’s prime minister and the other’s parliament.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkeys’ ambassador to Baghdad to condemn allegedly “provocative” comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday about the planned operation to dislodge ISIS militants from the northern city of Mosul, said spokesman Ahmad Jamal.
Yildrim told ruling party legislators in parliament that the Iraqi operation could spark Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions if the majority Sunni region around Mosul were to be placed under Shia militia control after the offensive. However, it is still unclear if the militias, the core of the Iraqi paramilitary forces battling ISIS, will take an essential part in the Mosul operation.
Relations between Iraq and Turkey have become strained since late last year when Turkey sent unauthorised troops to the region of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul to train antiISIS fighters. Baghdad considers this a “blatant violation” of Iraq’s sovereignty and has demanded Turkish withdrawal, a call Ankara has ignored.
Yildrim comments on Tuesday echoed those of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan days earlier during a parliamentary session in which Turkish legislators extended the mandate of Turkish forces in Syria and Iraq for one more year.
Erdogan expressed Ankara’s willingness to join the imminent battle for Mosul.
In Iraq, the parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution denouncing the extension of Turkish troops’ presence and asking the government to consider them as “occupation forces.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi later told reporters the presence of Turkish troops “is one of the challenges” ahead of the Mosul operation, warning that Ankara’s insistence could lead to a “regional warfare.”
In Ankara, the Iraqi envoy was summoned for a protest over the Iraqi parliament resolution. The Foreign Ministry said Turkey has for years suffered from terror threats arising from instability in Iraq and had strongly supported Iraq’s territorial integrity, stability and security.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city located about 360km northwest of Baghdad, is the last remaining ISIS urban stronghold in Iraq. The government is now gearing up for a major offensive to retake Mosul.
Two boys float in an old wooden box in an area flooded by heavy rains caused by Hurricane Matthew in La Puya slum in the Arroyo Hondo creek in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Matthew roared into the southwestern coast of the island of Hispaniola with devastating storm conditions as it headed north toward Cuba and the eastern coast of Florida.