Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan Trade Threats

Monday, April 30, 2007 at 07:40 AM

The Kurdish population is spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, and all of those countries have long been nervous about the loyalties and intentions of their Kurdish population.

The fact that Iraqi Kurds have an autonomous region of their own makes Turkey and Iran quite nervous about their own Kurdish population either wanting their own autonomous regions or, even worse, wanting to join Iraqi Kurds to form a larger Kurdistan.

Both Turkey and Iran have accused Iraqi Kurds of either aiding rebellious Kurds in the other countries in carrying out attacks, or at least of sheltering the Kurdish rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Now according to World Politics Watch:

Sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites continues to dominate headlines, but the latest threat to stability in Iraq -- and perhaps the whole region -- appears to be mounting tension between the Turkish government and Iraq's Kurds, both of whom are now reported to be massing troops on the Iraq-Turkey border.

While regional experts say the breakout of violence along the border likely is not imminent, recent developments indicate the United States is taking the threat seriously, as the consequences of a conflagration could be dire for the fragile Iraqi occupation. ...

In an April 12 press conference in Ankara, Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the Turkish General Staff, said Turkish forces should attack PKK posts in Iraq, although he said such a move would be a political, not military, decision.

Turkey is also threatening economic sanctions, including shutting down the Habur border crossing. That would hurt Turkey's economy as well, so it is looking to route commerce through its border with Syria, the Turkish Daily News reported April 12. Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are major trading partners; the Iraqi north gets much of its needed electricity and fuels from Turkey. ...

The United States realizes the seriousness of the situation. Recently, it sent David Satterfield, the Bush administration's Iraq coordinator, to Ankara to meet with Turkey's top foreign ministry and military leaders to press Ankara not to push forward with military incursions into northern Iraq.

After the meeting, Satterfield said PKK violence should be a bigger priority for Iraqi Kurds. On April 21, he told Al-Arabiya: "The Kurdish leadership must do more to address this problem of terror and terrorism." ...

There are reports that more than 200,000 Turkish troops are massed at the border with Iraq. According to an April 12 piece by Andrew McGregor in the Terrorism Monitor, published by Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, the troops recently cleared mines laid by the PKK, and Turkish special forces penetrated up to 40 kilometers inside Iraq "to prepare the advance and seal off PKK escape routes."

According to Iraq Slogger, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government:

... responded in kind, stating that Iraqi Kurds would interfere in the Kurdish regions of Turkey" if Turkey, which considers the PKK a terrorist organization, proceeded with the strikes. Tensions have already escalated along the Turkey-Iraq border, with the Kurdish government reportedly redeploying troops and weaponry in the area and Turkey boycotting a cross-border Kurdish trade route, whose tolls are a major source of revenue for the Kurds.

There are lots of reasons that neither side wants to see this confrontation blow up into a war, which could end up spreading to several adjoining nations. But events could spiral out of control if the Turkey's Kurdish rebels committed a serious enough act of violence in Turkey. That is is scary, since there is serious doubt about how much influence Iraq's Kurds really have over the Turkish Kurds.

Comments

hi

I wonder if they've tried giving the Kurds diseased blankets? That might get rid of these evil indigenous peoples that keep making the fascist land grabbers nervous, eh?

Why, there's not enough room in these countries for any ethnic minorities -- they should just disappear and save some worry for nervous Turks and Arabs; civilized and in fear for their, their land and stuff ...

... where is a modern-day Custer when you need one!?!

Save the Turks and Arabs from the Kurds!