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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail