World Bulletin / News Desk
The Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq continues to be an important component of the anti-ISIL fight with its training programs for the Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds set to fight the terror organization.
The Bashiqa camp, located about 30 kilometers northeast of Mosul, first came to the forefront in December last year during a routine military shipment. Baghdad complained about the Dec. 4 deployment of troops to the site near Mosul, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and insisting the Turkish forces be withdrawn.
Turkey said that the 150 soldiers and up to 25 tanks were stationed in Bashiqa to protect Turkish servicemen training Iraqi volunteers to fight ISIL. The training mission had reportedly been in operation since March 2015 and was not assigned to combat duties.
Experts told Anadolu Agency more than 2,000 Iraqis have been trained in the camp since it opened in March 2015.
The chairman of the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University, Kemal Inat told Anadolu Agency that the camp was established within the framework of the fight against ISIL and against the PKK terror organization. He said that was important also for the Kurdish Regional Government.
“When we look at the conjecture today, we can say that [President of the Kurdish Regional Government Masoud] Barzani administration is more comfortable from the security point of view,” Inat said, adding that back when ISIL took control of Mosul in mid-2014, the situation was totally different.
He believes that Turkey will preserve its presence in Bashiqa camp as long as there will be a security threat there.
Director for foreign policy research at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) - a think tank based in Ankara - Ufuk Ulutas insisted that the Bashiqa camp was one of Turkey’s most “obvious signs of supports” in the fight against ISIL in Iraq.
He said Turkey's presence in Iraq had not started with the Bashiqa camp, and that there were many other camps that had been established long before in order to fight the terrorist organization PKK.
Ulutas claimed that Iran and Russia had tried “to bare their teeth” vis-a-vis Turkey through the Bashiqa camp issue, using their influence in the Iraqi administration.
The Bashiqa camp spat came weeks after Turkish jets downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border after it had violated Turkish airspace.
Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey representative, Hicran Kazanci, said the camp had initially been established upon the request of the Iraqi administration and the Mosul provincial parliament calling the campaign against the camp “dark propaganda”.
Iraqi forces last Thursday launched an anticipated offensive to recapture the northern city of Mosul from the ISIL terrorist group.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the first phase of Operation Fatah (Conquest) had been launched to liberate the Nineveh province – of which Mosul is the provincial capital – from ISIL.
Iraq has been dogged by a vicious security vacuum since mid-2014, when ISIL overran Mosul – the country’s second-largest city – and declared a self-styled “caliphate” in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Last Mod: 31 Mart 2016, 09:05