ThePoliticalCat

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Iraq: Things Get Worse

Kurdistan and neighbouring territories

And the only way they're going to get better at this point is for the U.S. to get the troops the hell outa there promptly. Turki began sending troops to the common border in April of 2006. Syria, Iran, the failed state of Iraq, and Turki all have very good reasons to resist the creation of a Kurdish state. Kurdistan has not been an independent political entity since the time of the Ataman Turks (early 1500s), although there apparently was a political agreement between the Ataman rulers and the sheikhs of the Kurds that Kurdistan, in allying itself with the Sunni Ataman empire against the Shia Savafids (modern-day Iran), did not forfeit its political autonomy.

Map of The Ataman Empire

By the end of WWI, the European colonial powers were happy to assist Turki in dismantling the last shreds of Kurdish independence, and most of the Kurdish-speaking peoples found themselves a minority population of five countries. The long process of cultural assimilation of the Kurds then began.

As you can well imagine, a history fraught with so much conflict - religious, political, military, territorial, linguistic - does not lend itself to a simple political solution. Turki is a member of NATO and has been attempting to become a member of the EU (European Union). This move has been greeted with some skepticism on the part of European member nations, which have insisted that Turkey institute certain basic human rights reforms (outlined here) before it can meet the standards required of members.

Turki Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the mid-year elections. Although ostensibly pro-American and pro-market reform, the AKP has been having a difficult time with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). On the one hand, there is plenty of internal pressure from Turks who are accusing the government of not responding to attacks on Turkish soldiers. On the other, there is external pressure from the U.S., which has finally realized just what a flammable cargo it's sitting on in Iraq.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The Woodrow Wilson International Center informs us that fears of a Kurdish separatist campaign have long been a bugbear of Turkish politics. Li'l Boots' ill-considered, unplanned, and rapidly deteriorating invasion and occupation of Iraq is making the Mess O'Potamia even worse, engendering exactly the kind of separatist campaign that Turki has long feared. And, much as it did five hundred years ago, Turki is now talking to Iran about the "PKK problem."

Atul Aneja, writing in the International section of the Hindu, informs us that
Turkey’s Foreign Minister is on a visit to Iran where he discussed the crisis with his Iranian counterpart Manoucher Mottaki. Turkey is actively considering invading northern Iraq to attack the PKK hideouts located in the Kandil mountains there.

The PKK poses a common problem for both Turkey and Iran. The group’s sister organisation, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK), also operates from the similar mountain sanctuaries in the east against Iran. Turkey and Iran fear that the PKK’s aim is to form an independent state by carving out Kurdish enclaves in northern Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Meanwhile, the Times of London informs us that President Massoud Barzani has warned the Turki government that any attack across the common border will be construed as an act of war.
President Barzani gave the warning as a new wave of clashes inside Turkey left up to 20 Kurdish guerrillas dead. He said that Ankara was using its grievances with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as an excuse to challenge the growing prosperity and independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds in their largely autonomous region.
President Massoud Barzani of Kurdistan

“If they invade or if there is any incursion, it means war,” Mr Barzani said at his offices on the outskirts of Arbil. “If they attack our people, our interests, our territories then there will be no limit because everything is subject to that incursion.”
Oil is trembling around $90+ a barrel. The Telegraph relays a message from the remaining British soldiers in Basra, in a story titled "Get us out of here." It quotes a senior army officer:
The British Army, said the man sitting in a prefab hut in Britain's last base in the country, were tired of fighting.

Not only that: their very presence in Basra was now the problem.

"We would go down there [Basra], dressed as Robocop, shooting at people if they shot at us, and innocent people were getting hurt," he said. "We don't speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?"
A question the U.S. would do well to lob at our political representatives.

Meanwhile, in more troubling news, the Times reports that "Britons," whatever that means, are joining the Kurds in the fight against the Turks. It could well be that Kurds who are British subjects, or residents of Great Britain, have returned to their homeland to take up arms. On the other hand, it could also be that adventurers of various stripes are showing up and getting involved in the conflict. The article is not entirely clear on the issue, although it does state that the PKK has "3,000 troops." If so, the 250,000 Turki troops might pay dearly for venturing into their hilly homeland, but they can be reasonably sure of wiping out lots and lots of Kurds - innocent and guilty alike.

Meanwhile, AP is reporting that the Turks have killed 15 Kurdish PKK guerillas, while the Telegraph is reporting that Turkish troops are already well inside the common border - with the apparent knowledge and approval of the peshmerga (Kurdish paramilitary units).

I knew the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea, and the occupation a worse one. The truly Byzantine politics of this region indicates only more of a mess, not less.


I imagine Cheney's whupping Li'l Boots' ass right now.

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1 Comments:

At 1:24 AM, Blogger J. said...

You might be interested in The Wounded Warriors Project. It's a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for U.S. troops severely wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. It really puts a face on the cost of this conflict. Here's a link:

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/aarwebs

Jeff

 

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