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Four strategic aims for Turkey’s deployment of troops in Iraq

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

12-10-2015 16:29 BJT

By HanXudong, National Defense University

On December 4th, Turkish tactical units darted into Iraq, as the country affirmed that it was reasonable to enter Iraq. While Iraq accused Turkey  of an “invasion”, Iraq urged the Turkish army to withdraw from their country as soon as possible, or Iraq would be forced to take “necessary measures”. The Turkish army, on the other hand, has been stationed in Iraq, which risked war with Iraqi troops. Turkey’s deployment in Iraq has four strategic objectives.

The first objective is to strike Kurdish armed forces. The establishment of an independent Kurdish nation is one of Turkey’s biggest concerns.

Presently, the Kurdish army is mainly stationed in the tri-border of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Since the US overthrew the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdish power in Northern Iraq has greatly increased, which poses a serious threat to the security of Southeast Turkey. Turkey cannot tolerate such a state. This time Turkey sent troops to Northern Iraq to strike against the Kurdish army, while taking advantage of the complex security situation of Northern Iraq and its weak forces. This attack is designed to weaken and potentially eliminate the Kurdish army in Iraq.

The second objective for deploying troops in Iraq is to increase Turkey’s influence in the Middle East.

The United Nation Security Council’s resolution authorizes “Member States” that have the ability to “take all necessary measures to combat the terrorist acts of the “Islamic State”. With this in mind, multinational military actions have been taken. The US has sent special forces into Iraq, Russia and Iran also have a small number of ground personnel in Syria, but this was  still not enough to play an important role in ground operations. This time, Turkey dispatched a mission of ground forces, designed to expand and enhance Turkey’s role in the implementation of the United Nations resolution. This would expand Turkey’s international influence, especially its impact on Middle East Affairs while shaping the image of Turkey in the Middle East.

The third objective is to maintain the security of the passage of Turkish “convoys” linking Turkey to Iraq.

With the increase of air power by the Russian air force, it has become  more difficult for the “convoys” to enter Turkey from Syria. Regardless of the supplies that are transported by convoys, Turkey’s acceptance of these convoys indicates that there are benefits. Turkey sent troops to northern Iraq, and it is suspected that these troops are to protect the convoys entering Turkey from Iraq. If this is the real purpose, Turkey’s action may appear to the international community that Turkey intends to protect and expand the "Islamic State”.

The fourth objective is to shape the pattern of Turkey’s contribution in fighting against extremists of the “Islamic State”.

At present, the US launched air strikes against supporters of the  “Islamic State” mainly in Iraq. Russia did the same, but mainly in Syria. After Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, it is has become increasingly difficult for Turkey to successfully invade northern Syria using military aircraft or ground troops. Therefore, Turkey has only one way in, that is, to launch ground forces into northern Iraq. With a strong opposition from Iraq, Turkey will have a difficult time making a move.

Nevertheless, Turkey still wants to play an active role in combating the extremist actions of the “Islamic State”. There is a Chinese saying, “First come, first served.” As a neighbor of Syria and Iraq, when air forces cannot play a role, it is inevitable for Turkey to send ground forces into Iraq. Turkey’s aim is to become one of the three most powerful forces in the fight t against the extremism of the “Islamic State”.

Whether Turkey can realize its strategic objective of sending troops to Iraq, largely depends on factors like the future security situation in the Middle East, Turkey’s operations, as well as the power play between the US and Russia.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


 

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