Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sending A Message To Kurdistan

One of the major hurdles to overcome in pacifying Iraq and creating a functioning democracy is to quell Kurdish seperatism and adventurism. LTG Barry McCaffery, in his most recent report, termed this the next likely cause for Iraqi civil war. And indeed, Kurdish insistence on setting up a seperate state could also bring Turkey into conflict as the Turks, rightly or wrongly, have long stated their refusal to countenance a seperate Kurdish state. There is little doubt that the U.S. decision to provide actionable intelligence to Turkey about PKK locations and the Turkish cross border raids taken in reliance on that intelligence are meant as a clear message to the Kurds. This today from al Jazeera:

Iraq's Kurdish regional leader has warned neighbouring Turkey that he is losing patience with the repeated bombing raids against rebel positions in the north of Iraq.

Massoud Barzani said on Monday that his people "cannot accept" the bombing raids and shelling, but acknowledged there was little he could do to stop them.

"We cannot accept this situation to continue," he said.

"We cannot accept our villages to be bombed and our people killed," he told reporters in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, adding that the attacks violated Iraqi sovereignty.

On Sunday, Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets inside Iraqi territory, in the fourth cross-border operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in one week.

Barzani refused to meet Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, when she made a surprise visit to Iraq on December 18.

However, George Bush, the US president, took the opportunity on Monday to promise Turkey his country would continue to help fight separatist Kurdish rebels.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, agreed with Bush to continue to share intelligence. Turkey maintains it has the right to pursue PKK fighters into Iraqi territory.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said the leaders discussed the "importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront" the rebels.

Both Washington and Baghdad have asked Turkey to show restraint, fearing a large-scale Turkish offensive might destabilise northern Iraq.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president who is a Kurd, said Iraq's foreign minister had summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to complain, but said he did not want to exacerbate tensions between Iraq and its neighbour.
Read the entire article.

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