1Terror attacks perpetrated against Turks not included.
The heat continues to rise in the situation along Iraq’s border with Turkey:
BAGHDAD – Turkey’s foreign minister rejected any cease-fire by Kurdish rebels Tuesday as he met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to press them to crack down on the guerrillas. Turkish forces massed on the border and tensions rose over a threatened military incursion.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, said Iraq’s central government and authorities in its Kurdish autonomous region in the north would work together to deny the rebels freedom of movement, funds and representative offices. He said a high-level political and military delegation would travel soon to Turkey.
Iraqi officials have been saying that guerrillas with the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is known by its Kurdish acronym PKK, were based in inaccessible mountainous areas of northern Iraq.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said there are several ways to fight terrorism and Ankara would use them when appropriate. The buildup of troops along Turkey’s border with Iraq, meanwhile, continued with military helicopters airlifting commando units into the area overnight.
It seems to me there are several prospective alternatives in defusing the situation.
- The Iraqi national government could go after the PKK bases. Representatives of the Iraqi government have said that there are no resources available for doing so. I also wonder if the Iraqi national government has the inclination to go after the PKK.
- The Kurdish Regional Authority could go after the PKK bases. My suspicion here is that Barzani actually sympathizes with the PKK or, possibly, views it as politically expedient to turn a blind eye to PKK raids against Turkey.
- The U. S. could go after the PKK bases. Diverting resources to chasing the PKK in the mountains of northwest Iraq would almost certainly put a crimp in the Surge and create an opening for whatever insurgent groups that the Surge has reduced to regroup and cause more trouble, further degrading political support for U. S. activities in Iraq both here and there.
- The Iraqi national government could ask for the Turks’ assistance in controlling the PKK within Iraq. I think that this is the best solution but offhand I’d guess that most Iraqis would see this as an intolerable violation of national sovereignty and Kurds would see it as making the case for independence.
- The Americans and the Iraqis could do nothing and quietly let the Turks eliminate the PKK bases. Although one of my commenters has noted that this may be beyond the Turks’ abilities and predicts that what’s going on is no more than saber-rattling, I suspect this is what will happen. The Turks have domestic political fires to bank at home, you know.
The Bush Administration’s phlegmatic attitude towards this matter will no doubt further weaken the case that we’re prosecuting a war on terror.
There are a couple of posts on this issue you might want to take a look at. This post at MVDG’s site summarizes the Iraqi, Turkish, and U. S. political issues at stake. Also, this editorial from Hürriyet, Turkey’s largest newspaper, is doing quite some saber-rattling—at the U. S. Thanks, House Foreign Affairs Committee.