On May 19, 2012 several dozen people showed up in Basra City in southern Iraq to protest outside the Turkish consulate there. They were demanding that Turkey turn over Vice President Tariq Hashemi who is currently residing in that country to escape an arrest warrant. The Federation of Trade Unions of Basra, the Movement of the Masses of Basra, and local tribal leaders (1) helped organize the demonstration. Participants burned the Turkish flag, chanted anti-Turkish slogans, and threatened to push the provincial council to cancel contracts with Turkey if Hashemi was not turned over in 15 days. There are hundreds Turkish firms doing business in the governorate. It’s not clear whether this protest was linked to any political parties, but it showed the deteriorating relations between Iraq and Turkey.
Recently, Turkish officials have taken the side of the Iraqi National Movement (INM) in its on-going dispute with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In April 2012 for example, Turkish Premier Recep Erdogan hosted Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, and called Maliki sectarian and acting out of self-interest. Afterward, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about those comments. This dates back to the 2010 parliamentary election when Ankara backed the INM. It’s for those reasons that the May event could have been organized by groups linked with Maliki since Turkey is supporting his main rival. They could also just be an expression of popular discontent driven by current events.
1. Al-Aalem, “Demonstrators in Basra: 15 days before the Ankara for delivery or expulsion of its al-Hashemi and the District of goods,” 5/19/12
Al-Aalem, “Demonstrators in Basra: 15 days before the Ankara for delivery or expulsion of its al-Hashemi and the District of goods,” 5/19/12
Omhammed, Riyadh, “The Heart of Allawi’s Win,” At War, New York Times, 3/29/10
Radio Nawa, “Demonstrators in Basra, Turkey vows to close its consulate in the province if not delivered within two weeks Hashemi,” 5/19/12
Al-Rafidayn, “Iraqi protesters threaten to strike Turkish interests if it does not recognize Turkey to Baghdad al-Hashemi,” 5/19/12
Raphaeli, Dr. Nimrod, “Turkish and Iraqi Leaders At Loggerheads,” Middle East Media Research Institute, 5/2/12
Yusuf, Karwan, “Ministry condemns burning Turkish flag in Basra,” AK News, 5/20/12