BAGHDAD — Baghdad hit out on Tuesday at alleged Turkish provocations after Ankara said it would speak out if sectarian conflict erupted in Iraq, in a dramatic worsening of tensions between the two neighbours.
Despite improving ties and increasing trade between the pair in recent years, the rhetoric between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become heated in the past two weeks as Iraq has grappled with a political crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions.
“All Iraqis are proud of belonging to their country and no other. Erdogan has provoked all Iraqis with his comments, particularly those he believes he is defending,” Maliki said in a statement released by his office on Tuesday, in a clear allusion to Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority.
“Sunni and Shiite Iraqis are brothers and do not need anyone claiming to defend them against each other,” he said.