Monday, 29 October 2007

ATWAN ON THE POSSIBLE TURKISH INVASION OF IRAQI KURDISTAN

"The Turkish Invasion of Iraq's Kuwait"
Taken from MidEastWire.com

On October 27, the Palestinian-owned newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi carried the following article by Chief Editor Abed Al Bari Atwan:

“The collapse of the negotiations, which were held between Turkey and the government of new Iraq in Ankara yesterday, reminds us of the collapse of the negotiations that were held between the government of the late President Saddam Husayn and its Kuwaiti neighbour in the city of Al-Ta'if, under the sponsorship of Saudi King Fahd Bin-Abd-al-Aziz, only two days before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

“The Al-Ta'if negotiations collapsed because the Kuwaiti side, which was represented by then Heir Apparent Shaykh Sa'd al-Abdallah, did not accept the Iraqi demands, such as assisting Iraq financially, stopping the pumping of Iraqi oil from Al-Rumaylah oil field, and not flooding the international market with additional quantities of oil that led to a big drop in its prices. The Kuwaitis considered these demands to be exaggerated and unachievable. Shaykh Sa'd al-Abdallah made his famous statement that Kuwait does not yield to blackmail, only to be surprised by the Iraqi tanks in the heart of the capital of his country at dawn the next day.

“After a day of intensive talks with the Iraqi delegation, the Turkish Government has said that the Iraqi proposals for dealing with the Turkish demands by handing over the members of the Kurdistan Workers Party and destroying its bases in northern Iraq are unsatisfactory, and Turkey is in a hurry and it cannot wait.

“The collapse of the talks was expected because Turkey was very simply negotiating with the wrong side, since the Iraqi central government, which was represented by the negotiating delegation, cannot mobilize a single soldier in the north and, consequently, it does not control the border with Turkey. In fact, the flag of the Iraqi central government is not flying over all Iraqi-Kurdish areas.

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing mounting public and military pressures to invade the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq as soon as possible. Erdogan's hesitation to take this step has begun to reflect negatively on his popularity in the Turkish street in favour of the military establishment.

“Through its operations against the Turkish Army, the PKK has reversed all equations in the region. The PKK has added another headache to the administration of President George W Bush. The administration does not need this headache not because it came at the wrong time, considering that its chances have started to improve in Iraq after the success of its plan in turning some of the Sunni tribes against Al-Qa'idah Organization, but because it was presented with a very critical choice.

“This means that it has to choose between two allies, one of them is a big strategic ally; namely, Turkey, and the other is a small strategic ally; namely, the Kurds in northern Iraq who were the key player in facilitating its invasion and then occupation of Iraq. The administration of President Bush will emerge as the biggest loser from any Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, because it will lose Turkey if it confronts this incursion, and it will lose the Kurds if does not. The attempts of the administration to urge Turkey to show restraint may not bear fruit, and if they do, this will not last a long time.

“In his reply to the calls of US Secretary of State Ms Condoleezza Rice to wait and give diplomacy more time, Erdogan was crude and right at the same time when he said that the United States did not hesitate for one moment to invade Iraq and did not heed all the calls on it to show restraint. It said that it is defending its interests and security, although it is 10,000 km away from Iraq. So how can it lecture Turkey on things that it did not do?

“The Kurds have involved Washington in a bloody war in Iraq that has depleted their financial and human resources, without any hope on the horizon of winning this war. They are about to involve it in another war against its strongest ally in the region, without being prepared to bear the consequences of any step they take, whether by confronting the Turkish incursion or giving up the greater and only achievement of their invasion of Iraq; that is, establishing a semi-independent, stable state for the Kurds in this afflicted country.

“Ironically, the PKK leaders are implementing the theory of Al-Qa'idah Organization and its leader, Usamah Bin-Ladin, in involving the United States more and more in the region's wars and regional disputes. Whether or not they have planned this in advance, the results serve this goal. Al-Qa'idah Organization carried out the New York and Washington attacks for the purpose of dragging the United States and its forces into wars on Islamic and Arab territories, where it can launch a war of attrition against them. President has fulfilled this wish of Al-Qa'idah Organization and has fallen into the trap.

“The PKK is doing the same thing by using the safe, US-protected areas in northern Iraq to launch its attacks against Turkey and its forces. This will prompt Turkey to invade this region and face America, the greatest power in history, in the hope that it will destroy the strong, strategic US-Turkish relationship or weaken it, at least. Apparently, it is about to achieve this goal, but this may have negative, dire consequences for the Kurds in Iraq in particular.

“The Turks in the military and political establishments, including Islamists and secularists, disagree on many things. However, they agree on one thing, which is the rejection of the Kurdish model in northern Iraq because this model poses a structural danger to them and lays the foundations of the greater Kurdish state, which covers parts of Syria, Iran, and Turkey itself.

“It was not surprising that the Turkish threats to invade Iraqi Kurdistan were met with support by the neighbouring countries, including public support (by Syria) and secret support (by Iran). This support may also exist in the quarters of the Iraqi Arabs, including Sunnis and Shi'is, who were upset by the Kurdish dictatorship, the successive steps towards secession, and the special, growing relationship between the Kurds and the US Administration - a relationship that often reached the extent of pampering.

“The Kurds, including those in Iraq, Syria, and Iran, lack a wise leadership that would lead them to a safe shore and towards the historical dream of establishing their independent state. The main proof of the stupidity of this leadership are the disastrous results of its current policies, which have left the Kurds without any real friends in the areas where they live or the areas around them. No one, including the Europeans and Americans, has rushed to rescue or stand by them in their current tribulation in front of the Turkish threats.

“The enemy here is not Saddam Husayn, who wants to develop weapons of mass destruction in a way that threatens the US domination over the region, but the enemy is Turkey - the big power that has the second largest army in NATO and the number 19 economy in the world. It should be admitted that the Kurds face difficult circumstances in all the countries they live in and do not enjoy the minimum level of their national, cultural, and political rights. Their history is full of bloody massacres and betrayal by friends and allies.

“However, some people also argue that the Kurds do not remember the favours of others, since what the Arabs in Iraq gave them was not given to them by the Turks and Iranians, in terms of autonomy and recognition of their national identity, even during Saddam Husayn's rule, or, to put it more accurately, in his last days.

“Despite this, they have completely turned their back on the Arabs, placed them in the category of enemies, and made Arabic the third, and even fourth language, after English, French, and German. The Iraqi Arab, be he Sunni or Shi'i, now needs a visa to enter Iraqi Kurdistan. And if enters it, he is not allowed to reside there unless he has a Kurdish sponsor.

“We must say that the Turkish incursion, if it takes place, will not be without consequences, because military involvement could lead to a state of chaos and an increase in the Kurdish military operations, as well as the possibility of losing the strategic US ally indefinitely. The Turkish incursion is now imminent. Only a miracle will stop this incursion and its consequences, but the age of miracles is over.

“The only thing we can be certain of, if the incursion takes place, is that all the current equations in the region will turn upside down and that what is left of stability in the region is threatened with collapse. The United States will definitely be the biggest loser. It is enough that it is now hated by the vast majority of Turks, after it lost the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims. This will add a new burden to its attempts to win the hearts and minds of Muslims. As for the semi-independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, it may be breathing its last. It may face a situation similar to that of the rest of Iraq; that is, bloody chaos.”

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