This one will have brought a massive sigh of relief from the US Departments of State and Defense today, as they realize that U.S. troops in Iraq may not be caught in a no-win between their hosts and a NATO ally after all.
Turkey and Iraq have agreed on a deal to allow Turkish forces to cross into Iraq to pursue Kurdish rebels, media reports say. A security accord would be signed on Thursday, an Iraqi official confirmed.Prior to this deal, the Iraqi government had said that any incursion into Iraqi Kurdish territory by Turkey would be treated as an act of war against all of Iraq and the U.S. would have been forced to choose sides.
Turkey has warned Iraq to crack down on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) within its borders or face a possible incursion by Turkish troops. Tens of thousands of people have died in the insurgency, including at least 80 Turkish troops this year.
...Local Turkish television station NTV reported that under the accord, Turkish forces could cross into Iraq for small-scale "hot-pursuit" operations to chase the armed rebels after seeking permission from Iraqi authorities.
"The security agreement covers many issues related to the extradition of wanted suspects and activating security co-operation," Mr Bolani said. "An enemy of the Turkish people and democracy in Turkey is an enemy of the Iraqi people and democracy in Iraq."
Turkey says about 4,000 PKK fighters are in Iraq's north.
Now there are three questions I will await the answers to:
1) Will Iraq actually carry through on allowing such incursions over what will doubtless be Kurdish objections.
2) Will the Kurdish authorities go along with the deal or use this as a further reason to assert their de facto independence?
3) If Iran, which also has a problem with Kurdish terrorists using Iraqi territory as a safe haven, asks for the same deal - will it get it and what will be the U.S.' reaction?