Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has harshly criticized Turkey for its what he said “surprise interference” in his country’s internal affair, claiming that Turkey’s role could bring disaster and civil war to the region – something Turkey will itself suffer.
"We... did not expect the way they (Turkey) interfere in Iraq," Maliki said in an interview with the Al-Hurra TV station on Friday, AFP news agency reported on Friday.
He said “we recently noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them," adding that Turkey’s latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs.
“And we do not allow that absolutely,” Maliki underlined.
Maliki’s remarks came two days after he was warned by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that his actions are taking Iraq back from democracy and urged him to take steps that would reduce tensions in the war-torn country following a series of bombings in the capital of Baghdad after Maliki issued an arrest warrant for his Sunni Vice President Tariq Hashemi last month.
Many attacks in recent days in Iraq have targeted the country's Shiite majority, increasing fears of a serious outbreak of sectarian violence following the withdrawal of US troops last month.
Large-scale sectarian fighting pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007. Well-armed Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias continue to operate in the country.
The increase in violence comes as Iraq's leaders remain locked in a political crisis that is stoking tensions between the Shiite majority now in power and the country's Sunnis, who benefited most from ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's rule.
The leaders of Iraq's rival sects have been locked in a standoff since last month, when the Shiite-dominated government called for Hashemi's arrest on terrorism charges, just as the last American troops were completing their withdrawal from the country. Hashemi, Iraq's highest-ranking Sunni politician, remains holed up in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north, out of reach of state security forces.
“If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs," Maliki said in the interview, claiming that Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and that Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities.
During his phone conversation with US President Barack Obama on Friday, Erdoğan also talked about the latest situation in Iraq, where two leaders agreed that a broad-based and inclusive government is necessary for stability in the country.