Maliki’s government accuses Turkey of ‘interference’ in Iraqi affairs
BAGHDAD - Iraq on Monday summoned Turkey's envoy to Baghdad to protest over "interference," its government said in likely reference to the Turkish premier's remarks about a worsening Iraqi political row.
The move comes days after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki voiced criticism of Turkish "intervention" in Iraqi affairs, warning that Turkey itself would suffer if its actions sparked conflict in the Middle East.
The political crisis in Iraq was sparked by authorities issuing an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges he ran a death squad and Maliki, a Shiite, calling for his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlak to be sacked.
Iraq's foreign ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad al-Deruki summoned Yunus Demirer to "express the Iraqi government's concern over remarks made recently by Turkish officials... which could negatively affect relations between the two countries."
Deruki, who characterised the remarks as "interference", said Turkey should "avoid all things that could disturb good bilateral relations," the ministry said in a statement.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday spoke to Maliki by telephone, voicing concern over the political standoff.
"Democracy will take a beating if the doubts being felt by partners in the coalition government transform into animosity," Erdogan said, quoted by Anatolia news agency.
The Turkish premier also called on political and religious leaders in Iraq to stem sectarian tensions stoked by the festering row.
Hashemi and Mutlak's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which remains part of the national unity government, has largely boycotted parliament and the cabinet.
The United States and United Nations have urged calm and called for dialogue, but oft-mooted talks involving all of Iraq's main political leaders have yet to take place.