Monday, October 13, 2003

Turkey in Iraq pt. 3

politics > iraq > mess > huge
Continuing on the subject (I, II) of Turkish involvement in Iraq:
"Turkish troops will strike back if attacked by Kurds in Iraq who oppose their deployment in their war-torn country, a senior Turkish general said..." Again this sounds like Turkey has no problem in creating further havoc in Iraq and may manage to alienate the only real allies the US occupation forces have in the region. The BBC confirms this threat.
Barzani is calling for the Arab League to oppose the deployment of Turkish troops to occupied Iraq, while the other Kurdish pary the PUK has a ticker on its site blinking: "Iraq governing council doesn't want Turkish troops".
Talk about making a bad situation worse...
[update Oct. 14: A suicide bomber has attacked the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, the Financial Times report on the row about Turkish involvement in Iraq and Hellblazer publishes an ominous Stratfor analysis. This analysis however fails to take into account the severity of Turkey's internal situation:
  • The fact that the current "moderate islamic" government in Turkey is at odds with the country's semi-dictatorial military leadership - and the power struggle is ongoing, while the "traditional" Kemalist political parties are thoroughly discredited;

  • that Turkish public opinion is overwhelmingly against the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and sick and tired of a permanent civil war that is heading towards being rekindled - and that the islamists, unlike the traditional parties, can depend only on popular goodwill;

  • that Turkey's EU bid limits the severity of measures of violent repression of popular discontent that has traditionally been the hallmark of the military establishment in times of revolt;

  • that Turkey has a devastated economy which might or might not be able to afford a semi-permanent war on its southern borders;

  • and that it took Turkey 10 years to quell just the PKK rebels (to little effect anyway: they're back in Iraq!) The prospect of facing the Turkish and the Iraqi Kurds together must be daunting even to the Turkish generals who thrived on the bloodshed in SE Turkey.

  • All this however doesn't mean that the worse case scenario of "deep" Turkish involvement won't come to pass. Just that the possible side effects might be too terrible to even contemplate... and, frankly. I live too close to the area, to view all this as a strategic exercise].

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