World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish citizens have been warned by Turkey's foreign ministry not to travel to Iraq as the security situation has deteriorated in the country and remains unpredictable.
Unrest in Iraq is running high as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants have seized two new towns after taking control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, threatening to move south towards capital Baghdad.
ISIL militants also abducted 49 Turkish consulate staff members, including the consul-general and family members in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
A statement released by the Turkish foreign ministry recommended that Turkish citizens leave Mosul, Kirkuk, Salahuddin, Diyala, Anbar and Baghdad provinces within the shortest possible time and avoid travel to these towns.
In case of an emergency, people can call +90 312 292 29 29 and +90 312 292 29 50.
Turkish airlines are preparing airplanes that can carry a high number of passengers and are arranging additional flights for the Turks that want to leave Iraq.
After the attacks by ISIL militants in Iraq, fear had taken over and many people left their homes. Turkish Airlines began arrangements for the Turkish citizens that want to leave Iraq.
In addition, Turkish officials said two airplanes are waiting at Arbil airport to evacuate consulate staff that are kidnapped by ISIL militants two days ago.
Coordinations efforts for Mosul are going to be discussed today in the Minister of Foriegn Affairs in a special meeting. The undersecretary of the National Intellgence Organization Hakan Fidan, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz and the Minister of Transportations Lutfi Elvan is going to be a part of the meeting.
The advance of Sunni militants in Iraq leaves Turkey facing a widening insurgency in two of its southern neighbours, endangering domestic security, threatening important trade routes and forcing it again to rethink Middle Eastern policies.
Although analysts believe any ISIL encroachment would be quickly spotted by Turkish forces arrayed along the frontier, financial markets have been unnerved. Turkey's lira currency fell to its weakest point in six weeks against the dollar on Friday, while stocks, bonds and the cost of insuring Turkish debt against default have also been volatile.
Turkish officials, from the normally vocal Erdogan down, have made little public comment on events in Iraq. Their top priority, they say, is the delicate process of ensuring the release of 80 Turks, including diplomats, special forces soldiers and children, snatched by ISIL as it seized Mosul.
"We're closely monitoring this situation ... We've mobilized all efforts to get our citizens back," Erdogan told a rally in the Black Sea town of Rize on Friday, saying he had spoken with Turkey's consul general in Mosul, who is among the hostages.
Iraq has risen to become Turkey's second biggest export market after Germany in recent years. Ankara has sought to diversify its trade away from a dependence on Europe, exporting $12 billion of goods to Iraq last year.
Exports to Iraq, mostly to the autonomous Kurdish enclave in the north of the country, have been growing in the double digits since 2005, at times in excess of 30 percent. This has helped to narrow a trade gap that is part of the reason for Turkey's huge current account deficit, the Achilles heel of its economy.
But relations are tense with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's administration in Baghdad, not least because of Turkey's thickening ties with the Kurdistan region, which is at odds with the federal government over oil and land rights.
Turkish businesses are heavily active in Iraq, which is home to around 135,000 Turkish citizens, the vast majority of them in Kurdistan, which curves around north and east of Mosul and, for the moment, serves as a buffer between ISIL and Turkish soil.Last Mod: 13 Haziran 2014, 17:44