Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Turkey's temptation

Uh-oh. I know that most of our focus the past week has been on the escalating conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, but turn your attention to Iraq for a moment. Not just to the continuing bloodshed in Baghdad and beyond (and there was a good deal more yesterday when, according to WaPo, "[a] suicide bomber killed more than 50 day laborers... in the Shiite shrine city of Kufa") but to the northern border, to the thin line that separates Turkey from Kurdish Iraq.

Britain's Independent is reporting that "[t]he Turkish army may move into northern Iraq if violence by Turkish-Kurdish guerrillas continues". What would be so bad about this? "Such a move could put Turkey on a collision course with the United States, which has repeatedly warned against unilateral action in Iraq."

There are domestic political considerations for the Turkish government, which "is facing increasing domestic pressure to act after 15 soldiers, police and guards were killed in fighting with the guerrillas in the past week," but the possibility that Turkey could move into Iraq, specifically into "one of the few stable areas of the troubled country," suggests that the situation could quickly spiral out of control even beyond the disjointed civil war that is raging in Baghdad and elsewhere.

How would the fragile Iraqi government deal with a Turkish incursion into Kurdish territory? How would the Kurds respond? What would the U.S. do?

If you didn't think the situation on the ground in Iraq could get much worse, well, think again.

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