On Feb. 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that his country will expand its cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in Iraq after the killing of 13 kidnapped Turkish citizens. Speaking to a gathering of supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan said, “We will stay in the areas we secure as long as necessary to prevent similar attacks again.”
This statement came two days after an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia threatened to attack Turkish military forces in northern Iraq. Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a powerful Shiite militia incorporated into the Iraqi state security apparatus, warned: “If the government continues to remain silent, the Iraqi people and the resistance will face the occupiers and will adopt a determined stance to repulse them.” This Turkish-Iranian conflict in northern Iraq betokens a rising cold war between two regional powerhouses.
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