Tension between Iraq and Turkey mounted on Monday other after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticised the Iraqi government led by Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite bloc a few days earlier.Iraq's deputy foreign minister summoned the Turkish envoy in Baghdad, Yunus Demirer, on Monday to call on Turkey to consider the "necessity of avoiding anything that might disturb" Iraq's good relations with Turkey.The summons came a few days after Maliki slammed Turkey for allegedly interfering in its domestic issues 'as if Iraq was run by Turkey'.Maliki's outburst at Turkey over the weekend targeted Prime Minister Erdoğan's comments last week, when he talked about the what he called “historic responsibility” of the Iraqi government to keep the country together, saying that those who would be responsible for a partition in Iraq would go down in history as devils, regardless of their sectarian or ethnic background.
Turkey responded by summoning Iraq's envoy to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. Diplomatic sources said Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun
Sinirlioğlu conveyed to the Iraqi ambassador that criticisms by Iraqi
prime minister that Turkey is interfering in Iraq’s domestic affairs is
“unacceptable,” and that it is absolutely normal that Turkey is closely
interested in the stability of its neighbor, state-run Anatolia news
Erdoğan's warnings followed the issuing of an arrest warrant for Iraq's most senior Sunni politician, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, and a number of similar incidents that tried to push Sunni officials out of office in the coalition government.The Sunni officials, who feel threatened as their houses get blockaded by tanks for what they call politically motivated accusations, also contacted Turkish officials for support in averting a sectarian clash.
Hashemi, who is currently hiding out in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region to dodge the arrest warrant, repeated his claim on Monday in an interview with the Anatolia news agency that the law in Baghdad was controlled by certain forces. “I feel indebted to the prime minister for his comments regarding my cause,” Hashemi said. He also uttered words of gratitude for Erdoğan, who urged Maliki in a phone call to take steps to reduce the tension and make sure his rivalry with other blocs does not turn into a political vendetta.
Turkey stays in touch with Iran and the US about the tensions in Iraq. Erdoğan said at a meeting of his party in early January, that he is concerned that without the buffer of US troops in the country, separate Iraqi blocs will fall under the influence of other regional actors (a reference to Iran and Saudi Arabia) and face partition in the long run.