Expert: Civil war in Iraq will be a catastrophe for Turkey

Expert: Civil war in Iraq will be a catastrophe for Turkey
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Dr. Hamidreza Azizi from the German SWP said a low level conflict in Iraq could benefit Turkey but a total chaos will mean revival of ISIS and a new wave of refugees.

Turkey will fall into a complete disaster should the dangerous escalation of violence get out of control and spiral into a civil war, a German analyst said in an interview with Deutsche Welle Turkish.

Dr. Hamidreza Azizi from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) said tensions between rival Shiite groups in Iraq could present opportunities for Turkey but if the clashes go out of control, another unstable country at its borders will mean catastrophe for Turkey. 

“If tensions spread in Iraq, the resulting instability could reopen space for radical groups like ISIS. Also, Iraqi Kurds may once again take action to declare their independence. Moreover, a new wave of migration may occur, which Turkey does not seem to be able to handle anymore,” Azizi said. 

But Azizi said that currently the clashes in the country seemed to be under control, as powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr demonstrated very clearly that he could stop his supporters with a single word. 

“Sadr was so sure of his dominance over his supporters that he first let them do whatever they wanted for over a day, then showed that he could lower the tension in less than an hour. That was his goal, and he achieved it to some extent,” he said. 

Violence erupted in the Iraqi capital on Monday after Sadr announced his “definitive retirement” from politics and the closure of all affiliated institutions, 10 months after his movement emerged as the winner in the October elections.

Clashes between Sadr's Peace Brigades fighters and members of the Iraqi security forces and Iran-aligned militias left thirty dead and hundreds injured in two days fighting with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. 

Azizi continued that a low level of conflict in Iraq would be for Turkey’s benefit: “First of all, Iran's influence in Iraq, which is Turkey's rival, will decrease. In addition, we know that the Turkish bases in Northern Iraq are targeted not only by PKK but also Shiite militias. If Shiite groups fight among themselves, it allows Turkey to expand and consolidate its influence in Northern Iraq more easily,” he said.