Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Turkish Troops Invading Northern Iraq?

For all of the propaganda-like blustering the Bush administration has been doing to try to find some justification to invade Iran by providing weak evidence that it's involved itself in the war in Iraq, perhaps they should have been paying more attention to Turkey.

There are denials flying around everywhere that Turkish troops have actually crossed the Iraq border to go after the PKK, but there is no doubt that Turkey has been threatening action for quite some time now. Defence secretary Gates tried to warn them off this past week.

Note the double standards:

SINGAPORE (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday cautioned Turkey against sending troops into northern Iraq, as it has threatened, to hunt down Kurdish rebels it accuses of carrying out terrorist raids inside Turkey.

"We hope there would not be a unilateral military action across the border into Iraq," Gates told a news conference after meetings here with Asian government officials. Turkey and Iraq were not represented.

Gates said he sympathized with the Turks' concern about cross-border raids by Kurdish rebels.

"The Turks have a genuine concern with Kurdish terrorism that takes place on Turkish soil," he said. "So one can understand their frustration and unhappiness over this. Several hundred Turks lose their lives each year, and we have been working with the Turks to try to help them get control of this problem on Turkish soil."

The Turkish government should know better: only the US military is allowed to hunt down perceived threats all over the world without regard to a country's sovereignty. It's might uppity of the Turks to think the same rules would apply to them.

Exhibit A:

At the Singapore news conference Gates was asked about a reported U.S. naval bombardment on Friday of terrorist targets in northern Somalia.

"That's possibly an ongoing operation," he said, adding that as a result he would not comment on it.

A PKK leader has told Reuters that this story may be a "test balloon":

PKK military commander Bahouz Ardal said the reports had been planted to test public reaction to any such a move.

"These reports are a test balloon from the Turkish army ... to calm internal Turkish opinion, which is expecting a move against the PKK, and test the reaction of the United States, Iraq and Kurdish parties and the PKK," he said by telephone.

So, at this point, no one seems to be able or willing to actually confirm anything. We'll have to see how this plays out.

Meanwhile, I find it interesting that this news may bury this story: Iraqi Lawmakers Pass Resolution That May Force End to Occupation.

Is the tail wagging the dog again?

Update: I think this bit from the IHT keenly illustrates the situation.

"Government officials fell victim to their own games. They cannot get out of this trap they have fallen into," columnist Mehmet Ali Birand wrote in the Turkish Daily News. He said Turkey's war talk had been designed, apparently in vain, to push the United States into expelling the PKK rebel group from northern Iraq.

The United States says the PKK is a terrorist group, but U.S. forces are consumed by chaos elsewhere in Iraq, and want to preserve the Kurdish-dominated north as a rare spot of relative stability. The Iraqi Kurdish administration has tense ties with Turkey, which has accused it of backing its Kurdish brethren in the PKK movement.

In other words, the US military is too busy to deal with it and wants to perpetuate the myth that all is well with the Kurds because it keeps pointing to their situation as the bright spot in Iraq. Denial as their modus operandi. Nothing new about that.

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