Middle East

Turkey's Erdogan accuses Baghdad of dragging Iraq to civil war

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of the parliament in Ankara on November 20, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

ANKARA: Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Iraqi government on Wednesday of trying to drag the country into civil war, amid rising tensions between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdish forces.

"The (Baghdad) regime wants to lead this (country) into a civil war," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara before he left for Pakistan.

His comments came after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued a warning to Kurdish forces in the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north not to advance towards government troop positions following deadly clashes in the area last week.

Relations between Baghdad and Kurdistan have been fraught since the establishment of a new military command covering disputed territory, and over various other long-running disputes including how to share the region's oil wealth.

Iraq and Turkey have been at odds over several issues, including the Syrian conflict, the Turkish military presence in Iraq to pursue Kurdish rebels, and the oil dispute.

Also angering Iraq has been Turkey's refusal to extradite fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been handed four death sentences by a Baghdad court on charges of running a death squad.

The Baghdad-Kurdistan oil dispute has an impact on Turkey as it has a pipeline handling Kurdish oil and is also a major customer.

Earlier this month, Iraq blocked Turkish national energy firm TPAO from bidding for an oil exploration contract, a decision Erdogan said was not "smart business," and accused Baghdad of acting "childishly".





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