Turkish Invasion of Iraq Continues

The Turks have sent more troops into the Kurdish region of Iraq to reinforce those already fighting the PKK there:

KIRKUK, Iraq – The Turkish army sent soldiers about 1.5 miles into northern Iraq in an overnight operation on Tuesday, Kurdish officials said. A Turkish official said the troops seeking Kurdish rebels were still in Iraq by midmorning.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Kirkuk, the hub of Iraq’s northern oil fields.

The troops crossed into an area near the border with Iran, about 75 miles north of the city of Irbil, said Jabar Yawar, a spokesman for Kurdistan’s Peshmerga security forces.

About 300 Turkish troops crossed the border at 3 a.m., said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the regional Kurdistan government. He said the region was a deserted mountainous frontier area.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment on reports of the Turkish operation.

The Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, has battled for autonomy for southeastern Turkey for more than two decades and uses strongholds in northern Iraq for cross-border strikes.

It was not clear how long the Turkish soldiers who entered Iraq on Tuesday would stay, but a Turkish government official said they were sent as “reinforcements” to existing Turkish troops stationed further inside Iraq.

“They are going there as reinforcements, they are not returning,” the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Obviously, not all Kurds are as blasé about the incursion as the Kurdish regional government seems to be. From KurdishMedia:

As for Kurdistan, the main problem is the lack of national unity. The statement of the Kurdish-Iraqi minister Hoshiyar Zebari is an example of the Kurds selling out due to fear. According to Reuter, Zebari had stated “We fully understand Turkish legitimate security concerns over PKK terrorism across the border…”. PKK might not be the savior of Kurdistan, but it is embarrassing for any Kurds at this stage to call the fighters from other parts of Kurdistan terrorists. The patriot of any other nation would have said we have suffered enough and are willing to defend ourselves and our brothers and sister in other parts of Kurdistan against state terrorism. Zebari’s statement regardless of diplomatic reasoning is disappointing and most likely forced by some of the corrupt NATO members.

Most nations would put differences aside and unite for their national interest in times of emergency, such as bombing their people by an intruder. When in crisis, the stateless and desperate Kurds tend to unite with one of their temporary friends that are in reality unchanged old enemies. The only time the Kurds in Southern Kurdistan made a significant difference in their movement was when the main parties started trusting each other and formed a unity government, called KRG. The progress is Kurdistan remains slow, if the Kurds from all parts do not trust each other and form a broader union and work on a national agenda.

It seems to me that the Kurdish regional government and the Iraqi national government are viewing the situation pragmatically. From the point of view of the Kurdish regional government, while they probably share the Kurdish nationalistic objectives of the PKK, they have neither the means nor the inclination to resist the Turkish incursion to root out prospective rivals of Mssrs. Barzani and Talabani. From the point of view of the Arab Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi national government, why extend resources they don’t have to prevent the Turks from weakening the Kurds?

It does strike me that the view of national sovereignty in which foreign troops are de facto welcome within ones borders to put down factions the regional and national governments won’t put down themselves is one that’s rather foreign to us. In the end if the people of Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East generally don’t want governments with the power or inclination to prevent such incursions there probably isn’t a great deal we can do about it. But it does suggest that large ungoverned areas, good places for terrorist training camps and bases, will continue to exist in the region for the foreseeable future.

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