The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, who is a Kurd, has said that Turkey has amassed an army of 140,000 troops on Iraq's border, ready for invasion.
Zebari's comments came amid calls by Turkey's military for the government to give it the green light to carry out military operations in northern Iraqi against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.You've got to love the bare-faced nerve in the face of obvious double standards when a Bush administration mouthpiece is telling a NATO ally it can't invade Iraq to stop terrorism.
``Turkey is building up forces on the border. There are 140,000 soldiers fully armed on the border. We are against any military interference or violation of Iraqi sovereignty,'' Zebari said in Baghdad.
Turkey has been pressuring the United States and Iraq to eliminate PKK bases in Kurdish-controlled parts of northern Iraq and has said it will carry out a cross-border offensive if necessary.
``Turkey's fears are legitimate but such things can be discussed,'' Zebari said. ````The perfect solution is the withdrawal of the Turkish forces from the borders.''
He added: ``No one wants a new military conflict in the region.''
He said there had been no ``Turkey military violation until now,'' citing artillery shelling and Turkish surveillance overflights.
Pentagon officials said they could not immediately confirm the report from Zebari, and repeated the hope that Turkey would not launch an incursion into Iraq.
``We've been working with them and recognize that problem that exists there. But we're also encouraging them that an incursion into Iraq is not the way to solve this,'' Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters Monday.
The BBC adds Zebari's justification for the Iraqi and Bush governments doing nothing about the PKK this past four years.
"We are fighting terrorism here in the streets and neighbourhoods of Baghdad. If the expectation (is) to release all these troops to go and fight in the north and in the Kurdish mountains, the thing is that the timing is not right for that," Mr Zebari said.The families of thousands of Turks killed by the PKK will obviously understand...
Previous posts by The Newshoggers on the Turky/Iraq border situation can be found here.