There's been a fair bit of coverage of the brewing storm between Turkey and the Kurds over the last couple of weeks, as the US mainstream media finally notices that this could become the finale for Bush's misadventure in Iraq. With the surge in pundits talking about it, I've had less fresh and new to say that hasn't already been said - but I still read the informed opinions of those who have been watching the developing crisis for a year or so now - people like Dave Schuler and Michael van der Galien.
The latter points today to an editorial in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, which Michael notes is read mainly by Kemalist and nationalist foreign policy hawks. Their Chief Editor has this to say on the subject of recent PKK attacks on military and civilians along with the taking hostage of Turkish soldiers:
All I had in my mind was this one question: at the point at which we have arrived, who is it that we are supposed to address our anger toward? I think I've found the answer: it's the person who protects the PKK [Kurdish Workers' Party], who provides them their swamp to sleep in and the person who guides them: Barzani.I think Bush administration officials and American pundits who, replete with the concept of American exceptionalism, have blithely pronounced that Turkey won't go agaisnt U.S. wishes may have a shock coming. The Turks are sending more troops and heavy weapons to join the thousands already massing on the Iraqi border while Kurdish political leadership - up to and including president talibani - are whitewashing the political situation in Iraqi Kurdistan while not actually doing anything concrete.
Yes, we must now address Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish regional authority in northern Iraq. We need to deliver this final message to him in the strongest fashion possible: "You have two paths before you. Either you will be our neighbor, or our target."
The decision lies with the Iraqi Kurds. It's their business if they decide to trust in the United States and choose the path to being our enemies.
But if this is the case though, our rifle targets must swivel to Barzani. Our targets will be on Barzani's military and economic targets. Our goal will be to transform the "Kurdish dream" into a "Turkish nightmare."
If Barzani's plan involves using the PKK to create a new " powerful Kurdish nation," we need to show him a new map.
Either that, or we need to show him that the price for that nation, built by using the PKK as a tool, will be too high for them to pay.
We need to explain: A handful of F-16s from the Turkish Air Force carrying out 30 or 40 sorties would result in a northern Iraq that just went backwards 20 years.
What if American F-16s come in front of us to block us? Let them try, that's their business.
But the United States shouldn't forget that such a course will involve Iran, Syria, and attach Russia, too. In fact, what they'll see is a geography that stretches all the way to Afghanistan. Oh, and let Washington remember to add nations in its old backyard to the mix, those Latin American countries that now hate the United States. And then there's always neutral Europe. Yes, these are all things that not only we, but America, lying 14,000 kilometers away from us, needs to think about. If the calculations and bills are being made there, the scale is over here. And on one side of the scale lies northern Iraq, while on the other side lays Turkey.
Turkey has come to the point of making some historical and global decisions. And what has brought us to this point? What lies behind the caprices of the northern Iraqi government is a super state's (U.S.) super-caprice. This is the only conclusion I can reach after three hours of meditation trying to calm my feelings of anger.
Today, Michael writes:
Of course, these Turks are right. The PKK has gained (in) strength after the US brought down the Saddam regime. Once they did so, they should’ve focused not just on Baghdad and southern Iraq, but also on the north. The Kurds have a history of causing trouble there, today’s problems should’ve been anticipated. That they weren’t once again shows that many within the Bush administration had little to no idea what they were doing when they decided to attack Iraq.I strongly suspect that, after a short period of grace to give Bush and Maliki a final chance to pull this chestnut out of the fire, the Turkish leadership will agree with him and the army will roll.
The leader of the Kurds in northern Iraq Barzani but also Iraq’s President Jalal Talibani show themselves of their worst side at this moment. One gets the impression that they don’t just believe that they can’t do much about the PKK, but that they wouldn’t do so even if they could. Whether that’s true or not, nobody can say, but giving the Turks that impression now is most certainly not wise.
I’ve thought about the situation for weeks, and I believe that time is running out. The Turkish government should act immediately. What the US wants is irrelevant. If the US decides to give Turkey less aid, so be it. Some would say that Turkey has become too dependent on other countries and international organizations as it is, and that now is the right time to cut at least some of the ties. No country in the world should accept what Turkey has accepted for months.
At that point, the consequences - which have been all too predictable for months while the Bush administration stuck its collective head in the sand - are best described by this cartoon from the UK's Telegraph:
Update Michael has a follow-on post up which is well worth a read. Among other matters, he notes that the NY Times has finally caught up with the PJAK angle in all this I blogged about back in mid-September. They're another Kurdish terror group, joined at the hip to the PKK, and claim to have covert US backing for their attacks inside Iran.