Nabeel Al Arabi Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: Qatar has distanced itself from an Arab League statement that condemned Turkey for military action in northern Iraq.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the State of Qatar’s reservation over Arab League Secretary-General Dr Nabeel Al Arabi’s statement condemning Turkey for bombing areas in northern Iraq,” the ministry said.

“The statement issued by Dr Arabi on behalf of the Arab League was not discussed with the League member states before its release. Qatar stresses its full solidarity with the Republic of Turkey for its actions and measures to protect its borders and preserve its security and stability.”

The Qatari statement said Turkey, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, had the right to defend itself and to eliminate the source of threats.

Article 51 stipulates that nothing in the UN Charter “shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

Qatar said the recent attacks on the Turkish border town of Suruc and other areas inside the country confirmed Turkey is threatened by terrorist groups.

“The ministry stresses Turkey’s need to act immediately to eliminate this threat, especially after the brutal Syrian regime’s atrocities led to the growth of these organisations that now pose a serious threat to international peace and security,” Qatar said in the statement carried by the Qatar News Agency (QNA). “The Ministry considers the Arab League Secretary-General’s statement as a denial of Turkey’s right to protect itself.”

In his statement on Tuesday, Dr Al Arabi requested Turkey to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq over all its territories” and to “remain committed to the principles of good neighbourliness and to the agreement signed between Turkey and Iraq.”

The Arab League Chief said that Turkey should avoid an escalation of the situation and cooperate with Iraq to address all pending issues in order to preserve the security and stability of both countries.

Dr Al Arabi also condemned all acts of terrorism targeting the countries in the region and called for cooperation for the sake of confronting the formidable challenges, eliminating terrorism and transnational threats, and reinforcing security and stability.

Turkish warplanes have carried out several sorties over northern Iraq amid reports they have killed dozens of fighters and caused significant damage to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) infrastructure.

According to Turkish media, the spiral of violence sparked by the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish activists last month in a town on the Syrian border by suspected Daesh militants has left a 2013 ceasefire between the government and the PKK in tatters.

The PKK has stepped up its strikes on Turkish security forces in the past two weeks, as Turkish warplanes bombed its positions in northern Iraq.

The People’s Defence Forces, linked to the PKK, has claimed the killing of two police officers in the town of Ceylanpınar.

Ankara said it was waging a two-pronged cross-border “anti-terror” bombing campaign against Daesh fighters in Syria and PKK fighters in northern Iraq.

The European Union said that while it acknowledged the commitment of the Turkish authorities to stepping up the fight against Daesh and reaffirmed the EU’s strong support for these efforts, it expressed deep concern about recent developments, which have a negative impact on the Kurdish-Turkish settlement process.

In Washington, the State Department urged the PKK to stop its attacks against Turkey and return to dialogue with the Turkish government.

“These attacks are only exacerbating the continuation and the cycle of violence here. We want to see these attacks cease,” spokesperson Mark Toner said on August 3. “We want to see the PKK renounce violence and re-engage in talks with the government of Turkey. And we want to see the Turkish government respond proportionately.”

Last week, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told an emergency meeting of the alliance today that they stood “in strong solidarity with our ally Turkey... to address instability on Turkey’s doorstep and on Nato’s border.”

The Nato meeting was convened by member Turkey, which requested urgent consultations with its 27 Nato allies in Brussels, citing Article 4 of the Nato charter in calling for consultations with regard to its recent escalation in Syria and crackdown on the PKK.

Article 4 of Nato’s founding treaty empowers member states to seek emergency consultations when they consider their “territorial integrity, political independence or security” to be in jeopardy. The meeting was the fifth in Nato’s 66-year history. Turkey has not invoked Article 5, which requires allied nations to consider military action.

With inputs from agencies