Friday, April 13, 2007

Turkey Seeking Permission to Operate in Iraq

I had wondered whether Turkey was going to move into Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to Stratfor, it's pretty much happening. They're already doing strikes into Iraq, and they're seeking permission to go in with greater force. This piece in the LA Times suggests that the US is against it, but there is little the US can do, unless it is willing to fight a NATO ally to defend the Kurds and their increasingly-daring militants.

That said, this isn't supposed to be a full-fledged attack. The Turks want to get permission to strike against rebels, not invade Iraq. The question is whether smaller strikes will work; if they don't, things will escalate.

And I don't think they will work. The Kurds know that the U.S. sees them as an oasis of stability in Iraq, and also know that while the US would be loathe to fight the Turks, the Turks are equally loathe to jeopardize everything over the Kurds. The Turks, in turn, are counting on the Kurds to not want to rock the boat either, and to squelch the rebels. The key issue here is which perception is wrong: which player has been misread by the others. I think it's the Kurds- they're achingly close to de-facto independence that bleeds outside of the borders of "Iraq", and I don't think the rebels will be dissuaded from that. They aren't going to get squelched, and sooner or later Ankara will be forced to act.

What bothers me is that "sooner" seems to be a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

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