Erdogan Struck at Iraq After Russia Blocked His Plans to Topple Syria

© AFP 2023 / MEHDI FEDOUACHA large convoy of Turkish military including tanks and ambulances rolls from the southeastern part of Turkey toward the Iraqi border (File)
A large convoy of Turkish military including tanks and ambulances rolls  from the southeastern part of Turkey toward the Iraqi border (File) - Sputnik International
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be planning to seize Iraq’s natural gas to escape dependence on supplies from Russia, and is also angry that Moscow has blocked his hopes of toppling the Syrian government, US experts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On December 4, Turkey deployed up to 150 military personnel to northern Iraq's Nineveh province, without Baghdad's approval, allegedly to provide training to Kurdish militia who are fighting extremists.

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"Some experienced analysts, including Elijah Magnier of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai, see a deeper, natural-gas-based motive in Erdogan's move into Mosul. That is quite possible," regional expert and author Helena Cobban, head of Just World Books, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Erdogan may be trying both to make up for a possible loss of Russian natural gas and to undermine the project for an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas line, by forcing Baghdad to let him and his Qatari allies build a north-south line across Iraq, Cobban suggested.

"But I am not sure that the Iraqi government will cave to pressure on this issue."

In legal terms, and the positions of major powers at the United Nations, Erdogan had exposed himself on the issue, Cobban explained.

"From an international law point of view, which remains important despite numerous attempts in recent years by Washington to brush it aside, Turkey's armed incursion into Iraq is quite illegitimate."

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Erdogan’s latest move was consistent with his determination to keep Turkey’s borders open to the passage of men, arms, and money to the Islamic State and other jihadists, in both Iraq and Syria, Cobban observed.

"Russia, Iraq and their allies seem to be acting smartly by appealing strongly to the NATO powers to rein in their out-of-control ally."

By contrast, Erdogan’s conduct of Turkish foreign and military policies seemed to be characterized by "increasing recklessness these days from the shoot down of the Russian plane to the launching of his new armed incursion into Iraq," Cobban stated.

She suggested that Erdogan is impatient and very frustrated as it has become increasingly clear that his campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad has been stymied by Russia’s military commitment.

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"The move into Iraq seems to be a peevish Plan B."

Erdogan ordered the aggression against Iraq because the country was so weak and the United States had created a chaotic environment and disregard for international law across the Middle East, Independent Institute Center on Peace and Liberty Director Ivan Eland told Sputnik.

"Because the Iraq’s armed forces are in shambles and the country can't control its territory, Turkey knows it can act with impunity on Iraqi soil," Eland said. "Thus, Turkey, an ostensible US ally, one of the biggest impediments to defeating ISIS [Islamic State] in Iraq and Syria."

Turkey has large and capable armed forces, but instead of prioritizing the Islamic State as a target, it is bent on eroding the power of the Kurds, who are the best opponents of the terrorist group that the United States has, Eland concluded.

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