Arab League denounces Turkish interference in region

Turkey is warned that its ‘intervention in Arab states is a cause for concern’

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaks during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in Amman on October 20, 2019.  / AFP / Khalil MAZRAAWI
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The Arab League has condemned Turkish military intervention throughout the region.

Turkey’s “military intervention in Arab lands, whether in Iraq, Syria or Libya, has become a cause for concern”, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said yesterday.

Most Arab countries “disapproved of its military presence”, Mr Aboul Gheit said.

His comments came after Turkish strikes on several areas of northern Iraq on Sunday as part of a pattern that had become “a cause for concern”.

“The strikes represent an attack on Iraqi sovereignty and are taking place without co-ordination with the government in Baghdad,” Mr Aboul Gheit said.

Ankara regularly attacks Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, both in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east and in northern Iraq, where the group is based.

Mr Aboul Gheit said the strikes reflected Turkey’s “underestimation of international law and its relations with its neighbours”.

A Turkish security source told Reuters that the warplanes took off from the south-east Turkish cities of Diyarbakir and Malatya, and other bases.

The defence ministry said the air operation was focused on the PKK stronghold of Qandil, near the Iranian border, and in Sinjar, Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in response to the strikes.

It received briefings on security across Iraq, and “discussed a number of policies including measures to counter the disinformation spread by terrorists and others to undermine Iraq’s security and stability”.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

The Arab League’s council adopted a resolution in March to take a unified Arab approach towards Turkey and condemn Ankara’s continuing intervention in Iraq.

“Arab countries unanimously agreed to this decision that included the condemnation of the Turkish incursion into Iraqi territory and a request to the Turkish government to immediately withdraw its forces,” the statement said.

“Arab nations view this move as a threat to the region.”

The League said it supported the Iraqi government “in the steps it takes, in accordance to international law, to ensure that Turkey withdraws its forces from the country”.

“This move is to consolidate the sovereignty of the Iraqi government over all of its territory,” it said.