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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/12/15

Crippled in Syria, Turkey goes for a "Sunnistan" in Iraq

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Reprinted from RT

Turkish troop deployment to Iraq
Turkish troop deployment to Iraq
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Turkey's "incursion" into Iraq is a cold, calculated move. And once again, the name of the game is -- what else? -- Divide and Rule.

Turkey sent to Iraqi Kurdistan -- which is part of the state of Iraq -- no less than a 400-strong battalion supported by 25 M-60A3 tanks. Now the Turkish boots on the ground at Bashiqa camp, northeast of Mosul, have reportedly reached a total of around 600.

The short breakdown: this is not a "training camp" -- as Ankara is spinning. It's a full-blown, perhaps permanent, military base.

The dodgy deal was struck between the ultra-corrupt Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and then-Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu in Erbil last month.

Torrents of Turkish spin swear this is only about "training"Peshmergas to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Absolute nonsense. The crucial fact is that Ankara is terrified of the "4+1" alliance fighting Islamic State, which unites Iran, Iraqi Shiites and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as well as Hezbollah, with Russia.

In Syria, Ankara is virtually paralyzed, after the "stab in the back" downing of the Su-24; the Russian revelations of complicity between Turkey's first family and stolen Syrian oil (Bilal Erdogan, a.k.a. Erdogan "Mini Me," denies everything); and the Russian Air Force relentless pounding of Turkey's fifth column Turkmen. Not to mention the deployment of S-400s and even a third-generation submarine complete with Kalibr cruise missiles.

So Ankara now switches the attention to Iraq with a "counter-alliance," made up of Turkey; the KRG (which -- illegally -- sells oil to Turkey); and Sunnis in northern Iraq under the supposed leadership of the sprawling Nuceyfi tribe in Mosul.

This is textbook neo-Ottomanism in action. We should never forget that for the AKP in power in Ankara, northern Syria and northern Iraq are nothing but former Ottoman Empire provinces, an eastward extension of Turkey's Hatay province. "Sultan" Erdogan's (unstated) wet dream is to annex the whole lot.

Meanwhile, Daesh still controls Mosul. But Iraqi Sunnis -- as well as the Iraqi Army -- are slowly setting up an offensive.

So what Ankara wants with this military base close to Mosul is to be part of the game, coupled with two "invisible" agendas; protect their fifth-column Turkmen, wherever they are, and having more boots on the ground to fight -- what else -- PKK Kurds taking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Sultan" Erdogan's whole rationale is that Baghdad does not rule northern Iraq anymore (he's got a point). But the problem, for Ankara, is that the real powers in the region may turn out to be Shiites and the PKK (that's far-fetched; but that's Erdogan thinking.)

"Sultan" Erdogan has extremely close business deals with the KRG's "Mobster-in-Chief," Massoud Barzani -- as in the oil exporting deal which, illegally, bypasses Baghdad. Barzani, predictably, has no problems with Turkish military designs; after all, "his" oil is paid for by the Turks.

As for the clincher, follow geopolitical ace Mick Jagger: it's a gas, gas, gas.

Ankara's move plays straight into the ultimate "Pipelineistan" war; the clash between two competing gas pipelines, Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria-Turkey, or Iran-Iraq-Syria, at the heart of the Syrian tragedy.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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