FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Turkish Prime Minister Threatens to Invade Northern Iraq

by PATRICK COCKBURN

 

Arbil.

Turkey’s Prime Minister has threatened an invasion of northern Iraq if, following yesterday’s Turkish election (apparently a resounding triumph for the ruling Justice and Development Party, the Islamic AKP,) talks fail with Iraq and the US on curbing the activities of Turkish Kurd guerrillas.

Turkish artillery has been firing increasingly heavy barrages at villages in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan. After three Turkish soldiers were killed and five wounded by a mine laid by PKK guerrillas last week, some 100 shells exploded around the border town of Zakho, forcing residents to flee.
The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, said the PKK fighters had been using northern Iraq as a base to make attacks.

He said there would be a tripartite meeting with the US and Iraq after the election but if Turkish demands were not satisfied, an invasion was on the agenda. “Whatever is necessary could be done immediately,” he said. “We are capable enough to do it.” Mr Erdogan’s hard line was geared to the Turkish election in which his Justice and Development Party (AKP) was — seemingly unnecessarily — fearful of losing votes because it was being portrayed as not acting firmly enough against PKK guerrillas. It wanted to stop the far-right Nationalist Party, which is demanding an incursion in Iraq, getting the 10 per cent of the vote that it needs to win seats in parliament.

The PKK has about 4,000 fighters hiding in the mountains of northern Iraq.

It has escalated its attacks in largely Kurdish south-east Turkey, but these are pinpricks as Turkey has an army of 250,000 men in the region. Nevertheless, the question of how to deal with the PKK became a central issue in the election.

The Iraqi government in Baghdad and the powerful and semi-independent Kurdistan Regional Government are taking Turkish threats seriously.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders are dismissive of a Turkish invasion achieving anything against elusive PKK forces. Safeen Dezayee, an expert on Turkey and a spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party of the KRG President Massoud Barzani, says: “The Turkish policy of military intervention here has failed over 20 to 25 years. They crossed the border in 1992, 1995 and 1997 and got nowhere.”

But the PKK is not Turkey’s only concern. Others include the development of the KRG as the nearest entity the Kurds have ever had to an independent state. The Kurds are very powerful within the government in Baghdad and are pressing ahead with a referendum, which the Iraqi constitution says must be held in northern Iraq by the end of 2007, under which the oil province of Kirkuk may vote to join the KRG.

The Turkish threat to invade puts the US in a difficult position. The Kurds are America’s main supporter in Iraq. Turkey is also a long-term American strategic ally. “The US is telling the Turks not to come in,” says Dr Mahmoud Othman, a veteran Kurdish leader. “But if there is a conflict between Turkey and the Kurds then the US will support Turkey.” To try to avoid a war the US is pressing the KRG to act against the PKK.

After the election, the Turkish government may feel that it has no choice but to launch at least a limited incursion. The Iraqi Kurds are nervous about how far Turkish troops will advance and when they will retreat. If the invasion comes it will be difficult to keep Kurdish soldiers, who form the most reliable part of the Iraqi army, stationed in Baghdad.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006.

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail