Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Turkey should not cross the border into Iraq

Turkey’s proposed invasion of Iraq to flush out terrorists could provide a dangerous precedent for other countries handling separatist terrorist movements.

Just as the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan to flush out the Taliban, who were protecting Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, it would at first blush appear reasonable that the Turkish army crosses the border into Iraq and flushes out terrorists from the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) who are using Iraq as a base for terrorist attacks into Turkey.

The Turkish government is under pressure from its citizens to cross the border. The country has a significant Kurdish population, which by some estimates is as high as 20 percent. The PKK aims to establish a separate Kurdish state in a territory (traditionally referred to as Kurdistan) consisting of parts of southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran.

The Turkish people find that the PKK is operating from within the Iraqi border, with neither the self-governing Iraqi Kurds or the government in Baghdad able to, or trying seriously enough, to stop them.

However, once this policy of invasion to settle scores with terrorists is established as acceptable, it could lead to a number of wars around the world, as countries invade other countries to chase terrorists hiding there.

India could, for example, build a case to attack and flush out Kashmir separatist terrorists who take refuge in Pakistan. In fact, India claims that its has evidence that the Pakistani intelligence agencies are involved in training Kashmiri terrorists, and other Islamic fundamentalists, who then cross the border into India to kill and maim.

Kurdish terrorists from Iran have also used Iraq as a base to attack Iranian positions. So Iran may also feel justified to attack Iraq from another frontier.

An attack by Turkey into Iraq, and the consequent political disruption, could also lead to the PKK, and its separatist agenda, winning popular support among Kurds living in various countries. It could disrupt US efforts to bring the Iraqi Kurds into the country’s political mainstream, as a lot of Kurds may now see a separate nationhood as an alternative. The Kurds are already close to it in Iraq, where they already enjoy considerable autonomy.

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