On February 28, 2021, the London-based news website Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed reported on the involvement of Turkey and Iran in Iraq's internal affairs. The report highlighted the growing tension between Ankara and Tehran over recent developments in northern Iraq, where Iran-backed militias have been deployed to Sinjar, Nineveh province, alongside forces of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a deployment which Ankara wants to crush.
The following is a translation of the report:
"In a new indication of the escalating tension between Ankara and Tehran in the city of Sinjar in Nineveh province, northern Iraq, over the deployment of Iran-backed armed militias alongside the militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK], which opposes Ankara, a quarrel has erupted between the Iranian and Turkish Ambassadors [to Iraq,] forcing Iraqi Parliament Speaker Muhammad Al-Halbousi to intervene, calling on them (without naming names) to 'respect the sovereignty of Iraq, to be fully aware of their duties, and not to meddle in that which does not concern them.'
"On Saturday [February 27] the Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, said that his country 'did not approve of military intervention in Iraq whether by Turkey or any other country.' He added in an interview with local [Iraqi] Kurdish TV that Iraqi forces should maintain security on their own. He emphasized that the Turks must withdraw to the international border and deploy there, and that the security of Iraq must be maintained by the Iraqis themselves.
To view the clip of Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
"Hours after the Iranian [Ambassador's] statement, the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz, responded in a tweet: '[The] Ambassador of Iran would be the last person to lecture Turkey about respecting [the] borders of Iraq.'
The Turkish Ambassador's tweet
"Iraqi authorities made no comment on the statements made by the two Ambassadors, but Parliament Speaker Muhammad Al-Halbousi responded by saying: 'the representatives of diplomatic missions in Iraq have a duty to represent their countries and to enhance cooperation between the two countries.'
"Al-Halbousi added, on his personal Twitter account: 'Some representatives of these missions must be well-aware of their duties [;] they should not meddle in what does not concern them, and respect the sovereignty of Iraq, in order to receive the same treatment.'
"Following statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party in the city of Sinjar, and in border regions inside Iraq, from which the party's militants launch repeated attacks inside Turkish territory, Iran-backed militias [in Iraq] have mobilized their forces in Sinjar, alongside PKK militant forces. The move appears to reflect a new understanding between [the Iran-backed] militias and the PKK militants, and coincided with statements issued by several militia leaders warning against an imminent Turkish invasion of Sinjar."
A cartoon depicting the row between the two ambassadors, which went viral among Iraqi social media users.