Turkey may defy US in Iraq


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Turkey risks US anger over plan to attack Kurds
By Louis Meixler in Ankara
Published: 19 July 2006

The Turkish army may move into northern Iraq if violence by Turkish-Kurdish 
guerrillas continues, officials said yesterday.

Such a move could put Turkey on a collision course with the United States, which
has repeatedly warned against unilateral action in Iraq.

But the Turkish government is facing increasing domestic pressure to act after 
15 soldiers, police and guards were killed in fighting with the guerrillas in 
the past week.

"The government is really in a bind," said Seyfi Tashan, the director of the 
Foreign Policy Institute at Bilkent University in Ankara. "On the one hand they 
don't want things to break down with the United States. On the other hand, the 
public is crying for action."

Diplomats cautioned that the increasingly aggressive Turkish statements were 
probably aimed at calming public anger. But they also increase pressure on the 
US and Iraq to act against the rebels, who are based in northern Iraq's rugged 
Qandil mountains.

US officials in Turkey and Washington are said to be pressing their Turkish 
counterparts to work with them to fight the guerrillas rather than act alone.

Any operation is unlikely to take place before the end of August, when the 
current military chief of staff will be replaced by an officer widely regarded 
as a hardliner.

The plans range from limited artillery and air strikes on guerrilla bases to 
attacks by commando forces or a broader ground offensive.

American officials, including the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, have 
repeatedly warned Turkey against entering northern Iraq, which is one of the few
stable areas of the troubled country.

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