Thursday, June 07, 2007

Turks, Kurds, and Americans

I mentioned this earlier as a brewing problem about to bubble to the surface and spill hot liquid all over the laps of the Mayberry Machiavellians (that's what they get for drinking while doing foreign policy).... OK, that's pushing the metaphor far too far, but this is rather serious. Turkey is not going to allow an autonomous Kurdistan, while this could very well be a necessary element of any settlement that gets the US out of Iraq. The AP reported yesterday that Turkey sent some troops across the border into Iraq on a brief incursion (Turkey has already built up its presence on the frontier). This may or may not be true. It's denied from a number of different quarters with different interests at stake. But the reality is that this situation is brewing, and the killing of three Turkish soldiers today and Turkey's setting up of "security zones" looks to set the place alight.

Pat Lang has more background:

...The tensions between the Turkish government and dissident Kurds is what it has always been. Sporadic fighting and terrorist action in Turkey is a continuing fact of life in the region. The Turkish government regards northern Iraq, with some justification, as a sanctuary and redoubt area for Turkey's Kurdish rebels.

The United States has encouraged the ambitions of Kurdish Iraqis for political and social autonomy in the north. The US has protected a nearly independent Kurdish autonomous zone for over a decade. It should be obvious that the real aspiration of the Kurds is northern Iraq is independence.

Turkey regards that as a threat to its long term stability and territorial integrity.

Should the American government not have foreseen that? How difficult was it to see that coming? Has the US government tried hard to resolve the potential for further war in the region over this issue?

Now Turkey is assembling its forces on the border. It is not too late to act. The US government shold aggressively seek an agreement in which Turkey and the Kurdish entity in the north accept a US guarantee (enabled by an American military presence) that preserves both Kurdish and Turkish equities. The US is now a Middle Eastern regional power and must accept its responsibilities as such.

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