Turkish Prime Minister threatens attack against Kurds

STR/AFP/Getty Images In July, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz warned in a Web exclusive for FP that the dispute between Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Turkey could “explode in violence” if the United States didn’t act to diffuse it. The conflict between the Kurds and Turkey, he argued, would destabilize northern Iraq and further ...

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598735_071010_turkey_05.jpg

STR/AFP/Getty Images

In July, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz warned in a Web exclusive for FP that the dispute between Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Turkey could "explode in violence" if the United States didn't act to diffuse it. The conflict between the Kurds and Turkey, he argued, would destabilize northern Iraq and further strain relations between Washington and Ankara.

Now, with Turkish tanks rolling toward the Iraqi border, the conflict appears to be escalating. According to a report in the Times of London, Turkey is preparing cross-border attacks on the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, whose members are responsible for an attack last week that killed 13 Turkish troops. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters today that the Turkish parliament is preparing to authorize military action against the group. (Erdogan originally said parliament would consider authorization today, but now Turkish sources indicate that it won't be considered until next week.)

STR/AFP/Getty Images

In July, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz warned in a Web exclusive for FP that the dispute between Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Turkey could “explode in violence” if the United States didn’t act to diffuse it. The conflict between the Kurds and Turkey, he argued, would destabilize northern Iraq and further strain relations between Washington and Ankara.

Now, with Turkish tanks rolling toward the Iraqi border, the conflict appears to be escalating. According to a report in the Times of London, Turkey is preparing cross-border attacks on the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, whose members are responsible for an attack last week that killed 13 Turkish troops. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters today that the Turkish parliament is preparing to authorize military action against the group. (Erdogan originally said parliament would consider authorization today, but now Turkish sources indicate that it won’t be considered until next week.)

Turkey has threatened to attack inside Iraq before. Whether the Turks would actually carry one out, with EU membership talks looming, is not clear. Their decision to delay parliamentary approval could indicate they’re getting cold feet. Still, Erdogan’s very public statement is an indication that Turkey’s patience with the Kurdistan Workers Party is waning.

Whatever the case, Washington must act to ensure the attacks do not happen. But how? My advice: Put pressure on the Europeans to make clear to Turkey that military action in Iraq would kill chances for EU membership. The United States cannot afford to see the one stable region in Iraq slip into chaos.

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