What does Ankara want in Mosul?
According to Turkish government sources the Turkish military has shelled IS positions in the Mosul offensive. Baghdad, for its part, vehemently rejects Turkish participation in the offensive and has denied the reports. The press takes a worried look at the crisis region in northern Iraq and asks what objectives Turkey is pursuing there.
He who controls Mosul controls the region
Turkey wants to take part in the Mosul offensive because this is where the future balance of power in the region will be determined, the pro-government daily Star points out:
“He who controls Mosul tomorrow will also control the [northern Iraqi] region stretching from Tal Afar to Sinjār. So if only the Iraqi army or the Iran-backed Shia militia of the Baghdad leadership and the [Kurdish] YPG/PKK march into Mosul, meaning that the Turkmens, the Kurds who support the [Iraqi Kurdish leader] Barzani, and a large proportion of the Sunni-Arab population is forced to migrate, this will both bind Mosul to Baghdad and place the region all the way to Sinjār under the control of the YPG/PKK. … Mainly for this reason Turkey wants to participate in the Mosul operation and also wants the Peshmerga to be involved. So that the inhabitants of Mosul keep Mosul, the Turkmens keep Tal Afar and the Yazidis keep the Sinjar Mountains. Otherwise a new war zone will be created in which brother peoples destroy each other.”
Unique opportunity to become new sultan
The Turkish president is pursuing a well-defined plan in nothern Iraq, Corriere della Sera puts forward:
“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's 'neo-Ottoman' ambitions ceased to be a secret long ago. … But in Mosul the Turkish turnaround is actually taking shape. 'We have a historical responsibility in the region,' Erdoğan explains, referring to the central role Mosul played for the Ottoman Empire before it collapsed after the First World War. In plain terms: Turkey is already looking ahead to the post-IS era, to the dissolution of borders that were drawn a hundred years ago by France and England. If the battle for Mosul spells the end of the IS, Erdoğan is more determined than ever to have his say on how the new borders are defined; this is a unique opportunity for him. Atatürk, the father of the Turks, tried to wrestle Mosul from the British - in vain. If Erdoğan manages to influence the city's fate he really will be the new sultan.”
Erdoğan mocking international law
For newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau Ankara has gone too far:
“With this move Turkey has triggered a dangerous escalation that could have a negative impact on the fight against the IS. Ankara is acting against the will of the government in Baghdad, which sees the presence of Turkish soldiers in the country as an 'occupation'. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly stressed that Turkey has the right to intervene in neighbouring countries if it sees its security at risk. This self-empowerment makes a mockery of international law and could have terrible consequences. It accentuates the sectarian rifts in Iraq. Moreover Turkey will be over-extending itself if in addition to the conflict with the Kurds in Southeast Anatolia and its intervention in Syria it opens up a third military front in Iraq.”