Turkey’s government announced Tuesday that it would support training for Iraq’s beleaguered police force as it struggles to hold territory against Islamic State.
Iraq’s national police and military have suffered repeated upsets and accusations of rampant corruption since ISIS first took the major city of Mosul last summer. In their absence, the main forces against the jihadis are the Kurds, who have serious reservations about the Iraqi central government, as well as various Shiite groups with support from Iran.
Turkey, meanwhile, has faced criticism for turning a blind eye to Islamists crossing its 500-mile border with Syria. Islamic State is among the groups that exploits weaknesses in the Turkish-Syrian border, especially relying on Turkish border towns as key transit hubs for recruits from abroad. Its self-styled caliphate controls significant amounts of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
After an election in June, Turkey’s government faces significant internal pressure to reform its attitude toward Syria and the civil war there. Iraq, where Sunni rivals of Iran have struggled to gain influence, is one place where Turkey thinks it could make a measurable impact. (RELATED: Sunday’s Turkish Election Was A Blow To Strongman-Style Islamism)
Turkey has also absorbed a great deal of the blowback from the war, hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced refugees.
Visiting the Turkish capital city of Ankara Tuesday, Iraq’s foreign minister said that Turkey had already trained over 3,000 forces, reporting to the semi-independent Kurdistan region as well as Mosul.
Mosul is currently ISIS’ largest city in Iraq, and the Iraqi National Guard has spent months formulating — and stalling on — a plan to reclaim it. Recent Islamic State propaganda from Mosul suggests that local residents are trying to stage a rebellion against the group. (RELATED: ISIS’ New Shock Video Shows Just How Desperate They Are)
For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hinted that the long-standing reports of corruption in the Iraqi military will not do. “Our expectation is for the Iraqi army to be restructured so that it will be able to maintain the security of the country,” he said.
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