For a solid year, Iraq and Turkey have been arguing about the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil. This dispute looks to be coming to a head at a particularly inopportune time, with Turkey announcing that their troops will participate in the Iraqi invasion of Mosul, whether Iraq likes it or not.
The invasion of ISIS’ largest city looks to be a huge struggle for Iraq without the concern about a secondary fight with Turkish forces, and US officials are trying to calm the situation down, no small task with neither side willing to give anything up on the dispute.
The State Department’s main effort is to keep the US out of the argument as much as possible, insisting that Turkey’s troops aren’t there as part of the US-led coalition, and that whatever coordination they and Iraq do is up for the two of them to decide. At the same time, they are warning Iraq to closely coordinate with anybody they can in the fight.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t seem to be in a coordinating mood, however, insisting Iraqi leaders are “not at my level” and “not of the same quality as me,” adding that Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi needs to “know his place” instead of trying to convince Turkey to withdraw.