Iraqi militia leader Qais Khazali, Secretary-General of Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq said that Turkish President Erdoğan seeks to restore the Ottoman Empire by occupying northern Iraq. He made these remarks in an interview that aired on Al-Etejah TV (Iraq) March 4, 2021. Khazali said that there is a Turkish plan to invade Sinjar and Tel Afar in the summer, and the Iraqi militias as well as Khazali personally will take up arms and fight against this. He added that while the militias are not equipped for waging army-to-army warfare, he would like to convey a message to the Turks that the militias have are experienced and skilled in attrition warfare. Khazali continued to say that the Turks should learn a lesson from the American experience in Iraq. He warned that a Turkish presence in Iraq will prove to be more dangerous than the American presence in Iraq, because of Turkey's territorial aspirations, and its wish to annex Kurdistan and other areas to form "Greater Turkey." Khazali said that targeting the military bases of the enemy is completely legitimate according to "the norms of the resistance."
Qais Khazali: "The attacks of the resistance against the [U.S.] military bases are entirely legitimate.
"The issue of the Turkish [military presence in Iraq] is going to be more complicated than the issue of the American [presence]."
Interviewer: "How come?"
Khazali: "The goal of the American military presence is to guarantee the security of Israel. The plan of the Turks, however, is to occupy Iraq and cut off... Their goal is to occupy northern Iraq, and to annex it to 'Greater Turkey.' This is more dangerous."
Interviewer: "What areas does this [plan] include?"
Khazali: "It includes Sinjar, Tal Afar, areas from the Nineveh Plains, and a big part of Kirkuk."
Interviewer: "They want to take over these areas?"
Khazali: "The [Ottoman] Mosul Vilayet..."
Interviewer: "They want to annex Kurdistan and all these areas to Turkey?"
Khazali: "You might say that it is a conspiracy theory, but it is not. They even published the map. I say it is not a conspiracy theory, but a Turkish-Ottoman plan. They are preparing for the 100-year anniversary of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Therefore, by 2023, they want to see this treaty annulled — 100 years after the concession of the Ottoman Empire. For that reason, Erdogan has come to establish his presence in every place that used to be under Turkish occupation. He established his presence in Syria. He entered Syria and has never left. He established his presence in Libya. He entered there and will never leave. He established his presence in Azerbaijan. He entered there and will never leave. He established presence in [Iraq's] Bashiqa. He entered there and will never leave. And if he enters Sinjar and Tal Afar, he will never leave out of his own free will. My brothers, this is a dangerous issue. It is more dangerous and worse than the American issue. I have information, from certain sources, that this [Turkish] plan is real and serious, and its first stages are planned to be executed in the upcoming summer months. Turkish forces will invade [Iraq]. The first step will be to take over Sinjar, and then of Tal Afar.
"If this [Turkish] army begins to march, it will be very hard to stop it. It will come. And when it happens... "
Interviewer: "What will you do?"
Khazali: "I am 100% certain, without any doubt, that we will take up arms. I, personally, will take up arms and fight in defense of my country.
"We cannot face the Turkish army in a direct confrontation, and therefore we will not do it. Let this message get to the Turks. We will not confront them in a classic war of army-to-army. However, we are experienced and skilled in attrition warfare.
"What I want to say to the Turks is this: Do not think that Iraq and the Iraqis are easy prey. Learn the lesson of the 150,000 U.S. soldiers who occupied Iraq. We did not confront them army-to-army, but we have [attrition warfare] capabilities that are considered to be among the most advanced in the world."