The Iraqi government’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Sarhad Sardar Abdulrahman Fatah, during a security council meeting on Wednesday confirmed Iraq has called on Turkey to stop its cross-border shelling.
“My government is working on sending a clear signal to neighboring countries that the stability and security of Iraq is a common interest [to all],” he said.
He added that Iraq is keen to develop relationships with its Arab neighbors and also attaches “great importance” to its ties with Iran and Turkey.
However, he noted, Baghdad has sent 54 letters of protest to Ankara demanding a halt to Turkish shelling of targets inside Iraq, “reaffirming the government’s determination that its territory not be used to attack neighboring states.”
In January, Iraq said it would summon Turkey’s ambassador over the death of a Kurdish demonstrator fired upon by Turkish troops.
Ten other people were injured when the troops opened fire on protesters who stormed a Turkish military camp on Jan. 26, and set fire to two tanks and several other vehicles as they protested civilian deaths caused by Turkish airstrikes.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a public statement on its website argued that, unless Iraq prevents any “organization from using Iraqi soil against Iraq’s neighbors”, it would continue its operations, citing article 7 of the Iraqi constitution.
“Turkey will continue to take every necessary measures to protect its national security by using its right to self-defense in accordance with the international law,” it said.
Turkish warplanes regularly fly over the border into the Kurdistan Region’s airspace to conduct missile strikes against positions Ankara claims members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) occupy. In these attacks, many civilians have died.
The PKK, a group that has been fighting a decades-long insurgency with Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule, is designated by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States as a "terrorist" organization.
The guerilla group is thought to have fighters near hundreds of villages inside the Kurdistan Region, mainly in mountainous areas near the Turkish and Iranian borders.
Despite of this, Baghdad’s protests against Turkish incursions has had limited effect.
“Iraq is still a weak state in the region, it doesn't have the influence to stop Turkey’s actions. The border region itself between the two countries is a kind of no man’s land,” Iraq analyst, Joel Wing, author of the Musings on Iraq blog, told Kurdistan 24.
“There is no central government presence and not even a KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] presence,” he added.
“That's the reason why the PKK has set up there and been there for so long, and also the reason why Turkey has dozens of military camps and bases in the region as well — for years now — and has never left.”