Skip to main content

Former Iraqi PM warns of 'new world war' after Russia-Turkey clash

Iraq has previously welcomed Russian intervention in Syria against the Islamic State group
Iraq's former Vice President Nuri al-Maliki (AFP)

Iraq’s former prime minister has warned that Turkey risks a “new world war” with its downing of a Russian fighter pilot on Monday.

Nouri al-Maliki, until recently vice president of Iraq, said in a statement on Thursday that Turkey’s stance on Syria was provocative.

“Erdogan claims that a Russian aircraft entered Turkey's airspace for a few seconds, forgetting that its own planes violate Iraqi and Syrian airspace every day," he said in a statement.

"Erdogan's double standards and aggressive policies are threatening a new world war.”

Iraq has backed Russia intervention in Syria, where it claims to be bombing targets belonging to the Islamic State group, though many have accused them of targeting other opposition groups fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The downing of a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria on Tuesday - and the subsequent killing of one of the pilots by a Turkmen militia linked to Turkey - has raised tensions between Turkey and Russia.

Iraq's relationship with Turkey was already strained after the Turkish military began operations against members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountains in the north of the country.

Current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the strikes against the PKK as “a dangerous escalation and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”.

Maliki was Prime Minister of Iraq between 2006 and 2014 when he resigned after pressure from the US over a string of military defeats by IS and allegations of sectarianism and corruption.

He took up the role of vice president which he held until August 2015 when the position was abolished in a clean-up of corruption by Abadi.

A report released by the Iraqi Commission of Integrity last month alleged that Maliki had siphoned off more than $500bn during his tenure as prime minister.

"[Around] 600 officials including ministers, deputy ministers, advisors, general directors have been sued on grounds of corruption. There are even officials who have been sentenced to 130 years in jail," said the spokesperson for the commission, Adil Nouri.

"Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also been sued for corruption but there is still no solid decision or development so, he is still out of jail."