17:19 GMT30 March 2020
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    Ahead of the battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh, Turkey has refused to withdraw its troops from Iraq, fueling an already heated confrontation with its regional neighbor.

    Iraqi troops, supported by US Special Forces on the ground, are expected to begin the battle to liberate Mosul from Daesh this month, and Turkey seems to want be involved too. But the Iraqi government is not so enthusiastic about the uninvited presence of the Turks in the country and does not want Ankara to participate in the assault.

    Journalist Alex Christoforou told Radio Sputnik's Brian Becker that Turkey's expansionist mindset could be one of the motives driving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decisions. But, first and foremost, Erdogan's actions are dictated not by Mosul's past as a part of the Ottoman empire but by Ankara's strong need to prevent the establishment of any kind of Kurdish state, he believes.  

    "[Erdogan's] number-one priority right now is really beating back the Kurds," Christoforou said during the Loud & Clear broadcast. "Because we all know that a Kurdish state to the south of Turkey could really mean the fragmentation of the Turkish republic as we know it."

    Journalist Alexander Mercouris noted that there are too many complicating factors in the conflict, apart from the Kurdish issue, including the fact that the Erdogan government "has become very much aligned with various Sunni forces" in the region, while the dominant force of the Iraqi government is Shia.

    He added that although the US will do everything in its power to calm the conflict, given the opposing factors in play, it is hard to predict how things will play out.

    "For the United States…the recapture of Mosul is extremely important. It was the capture of Mosul that really put Daesh on the map internationally," Mercouris said.

    "My guess is that the United States is going to be working flat out over the next few weeks to try and resolve these tensions between the Turks and the Iraqis. It will probably persuade the Turks to back off from Mosul…But at the same time I expect the tensions in Iraq, between Iraq and Turkey to continue."

    Christoforou emphasized that the fragmentation of Iraq, in which different groups had been able to live together in relative peace, was a "Pandora's box" opened by US intervention.

    "It's the case of creating chaos in a region which previously had enjoyed a certain stability." Mercouris agreed. "And these people who constantly advocate more war, more interference, more meddling in these regions, really ought to take a hard look at what they have already done."


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    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mosul, Turkey, Iraq, United States
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