A senior Iraqi Shia cleric issued a fatwa, or religious edict, earlier this week calling for Iraqis to fight the “invading Turkish troops” that are currently in northern Iraq, saying that militarily forcing Turkish troops to withdraw from Iraqi territory was a “religious and moral duty”.
Ayatollah Qasim Al-Tai declared that “it is imperative that [Iraqis] fight the invading Turkish forces.”
“It is a religious and moral duty to militarily resist the Turkish presence in Iraq, especially after the Turkish parliament decided on the presence of these forces,” Al-Tai said in his fatwa.
This call to violence from a senior Iraqi Shia cleric has been followed by a stream of vitriolic remarks from senior Iraqi political figures.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said that Turkey risked triggering a “regional war” if it did not withdraw its troops from the northern Iraqi town of Bashiqa. A regional war would presumably involve Baghdad as well as regional allies in both Damascus and Tehran.
Turkey insists that it is on Iraqi soil at the behest of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and in order to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga and other anti-Daesh fighters in their fight against the terrorist organisation.
Earlier this week, the KRG confirmed that the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil was not only requested by Erbil, the KRG capital, but was consented to by Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Turkey has insisted that it will play a role in the recapture of Mosul from Daesh forces, with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım stating that Ankara will not be told on what it can or cannot do in Iraq, setting the stage for potential future conflict with Baghdad.