Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic has strongly condemned comments by former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki blaming both Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the capture of Mosul by ISIS.
Bilgic has also condemned the most recent Iraqi parliament report accusing Ozturk Yilmaz, the former Mosul head consulate of the country, of having connections with ISIS.
Bilgic said, “Former prime minister Maliki is the chief architect of the current Iraqi governmental crisis with his oppressive, discriminative, and exclusivist policies. We can not take his irrational remarks - made in a conference held in Tehran and accusing our country of supporting ISIS - seriously,” in a press conference on August 18.
Maliki made the remarks in the capital of Iran, Tehran, which is the chief political sponsor of the Shia dominated Iraqi government. Iran had also previously supported the Maliki government.
Maliki claimed, “Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been the biggest supporters of ISIS and Al Qaeda. If these two countries did not support the group, ISIS would not exist at all.”
“When the gates of Europe closed to Turkey, Ankara began an expansionist policy in Iraq and Syria targeting the Middle East with a dream of recreating the Ottoman Empire,“ he added.
Bilgic replied to Maliki by saying, “He was the prime minister when ISIS occupied Mosul and his 70,000 strong security forces fled and surrendered the city to a force of 1,500 ISIS militants in just a day.”
“It's good to remember that he has also been designated as one of the people primarily responsible for the loss of Mosul,” he added.
The Iraqi central government lost a third of its territories to ISIS in June 2014, after the group launched an offensive in northern Iraq claiming the city of Mosul, the second most populated city in the country.
The ISIS assault also helped allow the KRG to claim Kirkuk from the Baghdad government, which chaotically withdrew from the north following the attacks.
An Iraqi parliamentary panel has also found that Maliki and dozens of top governmental officials were responsible for the loss of Mosul to ISIS in a report released on August 16. The panel demanded that they be held accountable for their inaction or wrongdoing in the northern territories of Iraq during the ISIS attacks, according to a Reuters report.
The Turkish foreign ministry statement also emphasised Turkey’s fight against ISIS alongside US-led coalition forces.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu previously said a “comprehensive battle” against ISIS will start soon after Turkey and the US agreed to the use of the Incirlik Air Base located 100 km (60 miles) from the northwestern Syrian border and Turkish airfields by US-led coalition forces for air strikes against the group.
The US-led coalition forces began to bomb ISIS targets in northern Syria following the agreement, according to media reports.
The foreign ministry has also rejected claims by a recent Iraqi panel report that Turkey’s former head consul of Mosul had connections with ISIS.
The ministry stated that the accusation is totally “unacceptable,” drawing attention to the fact that head consulate Yilmaz and his entourage had been held hostage for months by ISIS.
Turkey has strongly protested the Iraqi government and the protest has also been conveyed to the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, the ministry statement added.
ISIS militants assaulted Turkey’s Mosul Consulate and kidnapped Yilmaz and several staff members - a total of 49 citizens - on June 11, 2014. Turkish officials carried out extensive operations resulting in the abductees being safely returned to Turkey after 101 days in captivity.
Yilmaz was appointed as the Turkish ambassador in Dushanbe, the capital province of Tajikistan, in early July.