Friday, September 28, 2007

Turkey, Iraq Agree Terror Deal Without Teeth

By Cernig

Turkey and Iraq have agreed to punt on Kurdish terrorism.
Iraq and Turkey have signed a security agreement aimed at curbing the activities of the Turkish Kurdish separatist group, the PKK. However, the final agreement does not include a key Turkish proposal that its troops be allowed to pursue PKK fighters over the border into Iraq.

The proposal had been strongly opposed by the Kurdish officials in Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds deny supporting the PKK but say they must be party to any agreements that affect them.

Turkey's Interior Minister said this was a deal to prevent terrorist activity and primarily the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK. But it falls far short of what Ankara was pushing for, BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Istanbul. The Co-operation Pact does not grant Turkish troops permission to cross the border in what is called hot pursuit of PKK fighters, she adds. The minister says talks on that issue will continue.

Turkey does not recognise the legitimacy of the administration in northern Iraq, but officials there are the most staunchly opposed to allowing Turkish troops onto their territory.

The agreement has been signed is broad ranging: a pledge to prevent finance, logistical support and propaganda for the PKK.

A co-ordination committee will meet every six months to review the agreement's implementation.
I wrote about this deal a couple of days ago, when it seemed like Turkey would get that key request on hot pursuit, and said the deal would head off any chance of an Iraq-Turkey conflict. Now, I don't think it will do anything except kick the conflict down the road a Friedman Unit. Maliki's government has been pledging "to prevent finance, logistical support and propaganda for the PKK" for its entire time in office and so far the pledges have been more about appearances than actual actions. Primarily, that's because Maliki needs Kurdish goodwill and the Kurds broadly support the PKK purely because that organisation opposes Turkey.

Ed Morissey writes today that the deal is a victory for Maliki:
Turkey says they will continue to press the issue of hot pursuit for PKK terrorists. They will have much less leverage now, however, after the completion of these negotiations. Maliki needed the prestige that came with a partnership with Turkey, and he needed to make sure the Kurds did not see Turkish troops crossing the border. He's unlikely to back down now that he has the security agreement in hand.

Maliki scored a major victory in this agreement. Not only did he manage to work an agreement on a highly contentious international issue, he also delivered a victory for the Kurds that they will not soon forget. The treaty will sharply increase Maliki's international prestige, as it should, and it will solidify ties to the Kurds that Maliki began nurturing during the US surge.

...Most of the Sunnis have already started coming back to the government, and the success with Turkey will convince them that they can't budge Maliki from office now. Maliki will also have more political capital to push for the reforms that the US wants to see on reversing de-Baathification, oil revenues, and local elections.

It's just another piece of good news from the political realignment taking shape in Iraq, thanks to the surge.
I don't think he could be more wrong. What this deal has shown is that Maliki is entirely at the mercy of his government's feuding factions and the U.S., staying in power only by appeasing them rather than dealing from a position of strength. However, I've no doubt that Ed is correct when he writes that Washington's hand is clear in Turkish agreement to the current deal, toothless as it is. The Bush administration's primary aims were always to placate the Kurds, prevent Turkey starting a war with iraq as a whole and make sure Iran didn't get any reason to pursue a deal including cross-border incursions too. They've suceeded in all of those aims, for now.

I just don't believe that this is the end of the problem. In six months time, I don't expect there to have been any concrete action from Iraq to defuse the PKK and all it will take will be a decent-sized attack inside Turkey for the Turkish military to lose patience. They're already close to the edge with both the Kurds and their own government. It would have been better to allow hot pursuit by the Turks in small doses and as a part of law-enforcement efforts than to risk a full-on invasion later.

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