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Raids across the border

December 22, 2007

The Economist

Was there a deal between Turkey and America?

AS IF Iraq did not have enough problems of its own. On December 16th Turkish aircraft bombed what they said were Kurdish rebel positions deep inside northern Iraq. It was one of the biggest cross-border air strikes in recent years and was followed by an incursion by about 300 Turkish troops. They were said to be lightly armed, and advanced only 3km (1.9 miles) into Iraq. But the two actions mark a big escalation of the traditional hostilities.

The Turks' targets were Kurdish fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who have used bases inside the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq to launch raids into Turkey. Although Iraq's American occupiers have worked hard in recent months to prevent such a raid, Turkey's most senior general said that the Americans had not only agreed to the air strikes but had also provided the necessary intelligence.

If this is true, it may be the result of a delicate balancing act. The Kurdish enclave in the north is the most successful part of post-Saddam Iraq. The Americans do not want it to be destabilised. But they also want to salvage relations with Turkey, a vital NATO ally whose people have become strongly anti-American since America invaded Iraq in 2003.

Many Iraqi Kurds do not believe Turkey's claim that it is motivated only by the raids of PKK fighters. They fear that Turkey's real aim is to prevent the Kurdish areas of Iraq from gaining full independence, which would stoke up an appetite for secession among Turkey's own Kurdish population. The head of Iraq's Kurdish regional government refused to meet the visiting American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, as “a sign of protest” against American acceptance of the Turkish raids.

It may well be that America and Turkey have struck a deal. In exchange for American support for the limited Turkish raids, and a promise to order the Iraqi Kurds to take action against the PKK, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is thought to have made his own promises to George Bush. These include recognising the Kurds' regional government in Iraq and introducing a more liberal amnesty for PKK fighters.

A previous amnesty that pardoned only those who ratted on their comrades failed. Now the government may pardon all PKK fighters who have not been involved in violence. After more than two decades of war against the rebels, Turkey knows that military measures alone cannot fix its Kurdish problem.

 

 

 

 

 

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ناوه‌ندی هه‌ڵه‌بجه‌ دژ به‌ ئه‌نفالکردن و ژینۆسایدکردنی گه‌لی کورد (چاك) 
The Center of Halabja against Anfalization and Genocide of the Kurds - CHAK