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Why is Turkey stirring the Iraqi cauldron?

The wisdom and real motives of Turkey dispatching troops to northern Iraq is a topic of hot debate.
Iraqi security forces stand guard with their military vehicle outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad December 8 2015.  REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily  - RTX1XPHA

Surrounded by unfriendly neighbors as a result of serious policy blunders, Turkey now finds itself facing a fresh crisis with Iraq, with which it has had less than warm relations in recent years. The cause of the latest fracas is the Dec. 3 deployment of 150 Turkish troops and 25 tanks to Bashiqa, a town north of Mosul, that Turkey argues are for training Kurdish peshmerga and Arab fighters to confront the Islamic State (IS).

The move has resulted in much speculation about Ankara’s true motives. Russia, with support from Baghdad, wasted little time capitalizing on the fresh crisis, calling for Turkish military actions in Syria and Iraq to be discussed at the UN Security Council. Moscow’s announcement followed Iraq’s threat to take the matter to the Security Council if Turkish troops were not withdrawn in 48 hours.

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