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Turkey-Iraq Relations Deteriorate With Accusations of Sectarianism

If Turkey is to succeed in shaping the changing nature of the Middle East, writes Henri J. Barkey, it will have to increasingly interfere in the politics of its neighbors. To Turkey, Iraq's territorial unity is threatened by the Iraqi prime minister’s sectarian policies, and his backing of al-Assad ignores Syria’s complicity in the violence in Iraq.

Turkey’s dreams of regional hegemony are driving it into an ever-more antagonistic relationship with Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s policies are threatening the country’s fragile federalism.

The deterioration in relations has gone so far that Maliki has accused Turkey of being an “enemy state” interfering in the domestic affairs of its neighbors and stoking sectarianism. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded that Maliki lacks an understanding of democracy, and that in fact, it is he who has a sectarian mentality.

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