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The UN Security Council: Iraq and Turkey Must Solve Their Problems Politically, Not Militarily


Sheren Kelo

The head of the United Nations Security Council called on Iraq and Turkey to solve their problems, politically and not militarily, while commenting on the military operations of the Turkish forces in southern Kurdistan. He called what is happening in the region “disturbing.”

On 15 June, Turkey began a military operation in certain areas of the Kurdistan Region. Turkish officials say they were targeting PKK locations, but so far at least 4 civilians have been killed as a result of the Turkish bombing, others have been injured and some villages have evacuated their residents.

“There is no information on whether Iraq has called for a meeting on what happened,” Christoph Heusken, Germany’s representative on the Security Council, told a reporter at Rudaw Media.

Rudaw: I have two questions, the first on the draft resolution which both Germany and Belgium worked on, relating to the Syrian border crossings to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, especially through Yarubiya; to what extent are you optimistic about members of the Security Council accepting the draft, thereby recognizing the importance of opening this crossing given the urgent situation for northeastern Syria?

Christoph Heusken: My Belgian colleagues and I are responsible for the draft decision on border crossings. The dire humanitarian situation prompted us to work on the issue, as we need to provide assistance to people across the border. 6 months ago we had the same discussion and at that point, we demanded the opening of Yarubiya for crossing, but we were challenged directly by the Chinese and Russian veto. Our position is based on the humanitarian need, and while there is assistance that can be sent from Damascus to other regions — we saw how the World Health Organization transferred aid from Damascus to northwestern Syria — this is not enough and does not meet all the needs on the gorund. There is a shortage of necessities and this shortage can end by opening the Al-Yarubia crossing. We put this clearly in the draft resolution. We do not have time to spare, on 10 July, the period of the previous decision allowing the entry of aid ends. We want to deliver humanitarian aid to the region and we will continue our efforts to pass this new draft resolution. We will see the result of our work next week.

We are acting on the urgent need to send humanitarian aid to northeast Syria immediately; there is no way to send aid from the border, it must pass from Turkey and then into the two other border crossings mentioned in our draft (Resolution 2504). We will continue our efforts until the draft resolution is passed. Again, I want to reiterate that our chief concern is is the humanitarian need.

Rudaw: The Iraqi border is heading towards a critical situation. Two weeks ago, Turkey started a military operation within Iraqi territory, today Iraq says that it will send a military force to stop Turkey. Iraq has already sent several complaints to the Security Council. What will the Security Council do in response? Have you received any requests from Iraq to hold a meeting?

Christoph Heusken: We are deeply concerned about this situation between Iraq and Turkey. There were no requests that the issue be part of the Security Council’s working list, at least none that I know of. I spent only 14 hours in the presidency of the Security Council, and I believe conflict and disagreement among the neighboring countries should be resolved politically, not militarily.

Ihssan Chalabi, director of the Sidkan district, affiliated with the Erbil governorate, announced on Tuesday (30 June 2020) that Turkish Military aircraft bombed villages in the district.

Chalabi told Rudaw Media that at 9:30 p.m. on 30 June, Turkish Military aircraft bombed the villages of Berkum and the Snain areas of ​​the district.

Chalabi said that Turkish planes flew for about half an hour in the skies over the Pradost region, they bombed the above mentioned areas, and while the bombing did not result in human losses, it caused material damage.

On 26 June, Turkey carried out an airdrop on Mount Khamter, in the Zakho district of Dohuk Governorate, while it moved more of its soldiers to an area located 5 km from a military barrack for the Border Guard forces in the village of Sharansh. The director of the Darkar district of Zakho said unequivocally, “This poses a great danger to the residents of our regions.”

He added that “the aerial and gunner attacks are repeated on a daily basis, and Turkey continues to advance in the region.” He explained that “the military operations since their inception have affected 30 villages, representing a threat to 13,000 citizens, as well as 27,000 refugees residing in three camps. The attacks cause civilians to panic.” The director of the Bativa district, Dilsheer Abdul Sattar, told Rudaw that “the continuous bombing attacks caused physical damage to twelve villages in the district, and one village was completely evacuated. Now the threat of eviction threatens the residents of three other villages.

He pointed out that “military operations represent a threat to about 10,000 residents of the region.”

Recently, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced the launching of two operations against the PKK fighters in the Kurdistan Region: the first was an air operation named “Eagle Claw,” the second, a ground operation in Haftanin area named “Tiger Claw.”

Turkish operations continue within the territory of the Kurdistan Region, where the Turkish army bombs the border areas.

Clashes erupted 26 June between fighters of the PKK and the Turkish army in the village of Sharansh in the Darkar district, northeast of the Zakho district in the Kurdistan Region, with Turkish warplanes flying over the area.

The Kurdistan Free Life Party, close to the Workers’ Party, announced the death of one of its members and the wounding of three others, during a Turkish bombardment of the Being Massi area in Sulaimaniyah on Thursday. They had been traveling by car, ”returning from carrying out duties,” he said.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense tweeted, “As in previous operations, Operation Tiger Claw did not harm any civilians, and the Turkish army considers civilians, land, historical buildings, and cultural relics untouchable,” adding that “the only goal of the Turkish armed forces is to defeat  terrorism.

Meanwhile, the President of the Republic of Iraq called on Turkey to “stop violations that impinge on national sovereignty — as do the recent Turkish military operations — which enter into Iraqi airspace, killing or injuring a number of unarmed civilians.”