« Presidential Election in Lebanon Delayed |
Blog Home Page
| NYT: 'Ain't That America?' »
October 22, 2007
Turkish Troops Massing on Iraq Border
It's unclear whether this is a bluff or preparations for a massive incursion by Turkish forces into Iraq. But the killing of 17 Turkish troops yesterday along with taking several of the troops hostage may presage such an event unless the US and Iraq can do something to ease Turkish anger:
Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled toward the Iraq border today after an ambush by rebel Kurds that killed 12 soldiers and left eight missing. It is unclear exactly what the Iraqi government, the Kurdish leadership, or the US military can realistically do about the situation. We could go in and clean out the terrorist camps - that are also full of Kurdish civilians - but this would almost certainly not sit will with our Kurdish allies in Iraq.
Turkey's foreign minister said his country will pursue diplomacy before it sends troops across the rugged frontier. The guerrilla ambush on Sunday outraged an already frustrated public.
Demonstrations erupted across the country and opposition leaders called for an immediate strike against rebel bases in Iraq, despite appeals for restraint from Iraq, the U.S. and European leaders.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a telephone conversation on Sunday night that Turkey expected "speedy steps from the U.S." in cracking down on Kurdish rebels and that Rice asked "for a few days" from him.
The Kurds are torn between supporting the PKK's goals of an independent Kurdish republic and the fact that their major partners in Iraq need the PKK to halt their attacks. It would not be popular politically (nor good for their health) for Kurdish politicians to support attacks on the PKK in Iraq. But in the end, they probably are not going to have much say in the matter.
Most Iraqis suspect that if the Turks do invade, they won't want to leave anytime soon. In this , they are probably right in that Turkey will almost certainly continue carrying out search and destroy missions until they are convinced the areas are clear of PKK terrorists.
The US is caught between two forces, friends to both, and must decide whether to anger one of them by attacking the PKK. Given Turkey's importance to us not just in Iraq but elsewhere, you could hardly blame the military if they went after the terrorists with everything we have.