Iraqi Kurdistan May Become a Proxy Battle for UAE and Turkey

UAE slams Turkey's violation of Iraqi sovereignty

As Turkey continues its military offensive against the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, it is less about being the latest in a long line of Turkish incursions against the Kurds, and more about the possibility that Iraqi Kurdistan could be the stage for a proxy battle.

Turkey is, as ever, all-in for a military conflict against Kurds. Iraq is against it as a sovereignty violation, but not in any way that’s liable to matter. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), however, has also staked out a claim condemning Turkey for this offensive in a “sisterly Arab state.”

This potentially is more than superficial criticism. Turkey and the UAE have been on opposite sides a few times lately, and most substantially in Libya, where the UAE’s long-standing backing for the Hafter coup ran afoul of an offshore exploration deal that Turkey made with the government of national accord (GNA).

The UAE tried to keep bankrolling Hafter in Libya, but the course has substantially reversed in that war. Now that Turkey is pushing into Iraq again, the UAE may believe that they can pay Turkey back by staking out a contrary position here.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.