A dangerous case of “He said, she said”

STR/AFP Did they or didn’t they? That’s the question on everyone’s mind after the Associated Press reported that hundreds of Turkish troops crossed the border into Northern Iraq yesterday, supposedly to root out Kurdish rebels. Both Turkish and American authorities were quick to deny the claim, describing movement in the area as part of a ...

601393_turkey_08.jpg
601393_turkey_08.jpg

STR/AFP

Did they or didn't they? That's the question on everyone's mind after the Associated Press reported that hundreds of Turkish troops crossed the border into Northern Iraq yesterday, supposedly to root out Kurdish rebels. Both Turkish and American authorities were quick to deny the claim, describing movement in the area as part of a normal security routine. "There is no such thing, no entry to another country," said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. "If such a thing happens, then we would announce it."

His statement, needless to say, didn't exactly put me at ease. The latest move reported by the Washington Post was the creation of "security zones" by Turkey. But the exact definition of what this actually constitutes is unclear. According to Turkish sources, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani are also apprehensive, declaring that a Turkish move on Northern Iraq would be viewed as an attack on the entire country. So much for easing tensions.

STR/AFP

Did they or didn’t they? That’s the question on everyone’s mind after the Associated Press reported that hundreds of Turkish troops crossed the border into Northern Iraq yesterday, supposedly to root out Kurdish rebels. Both Turkish and American authorities were quick to deny the claim, describing movement in the area as part of a normal security routine. “There is no such thing, no entry to another country,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. “If such a thing happens, then we would announce it.”

His statement, needless to say, didn’t exactly put me at ease. The latest move reported by the Washington Post was the creation of “security zones” by Turkey. But the exact definition of what this actually constitutes is unclear. According to Turkish sources, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani are also apprehensive, declaring that a Turkish move on Northern Iraq would be viewed as an attack on the entire country. So much for easing tensions.

Turkey has been increasingly vocal lately in reminding everyone that it believes military action against rebels in Northern Iraq is its right. Clashes take place nearly every day between Turkish troops and PKK insurgents in the border region. Mostly of them go unreported, with the exception of a raid on Monday which left seven Turkish troops dead. The United States, which lists the PKK as a terrorist organization, usually shies away from making any strong statements for either side. But if tensions continue to escalate at this pace, we’ll quickly find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. With the Kurdish north as one of the only “stable” areas of Iraq, and Turkey as a strategic ally in the region that it can’t afford to lose, it wouldn’t hurt for the U.S. to starting figuring out a diplomatic solution before the situation really gets out of hand.

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