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July 18, 2006
Now If Turkey Had Allowed Transit For The 4-ID

Turkey has objected to a warning given by the United States against cross-border action against the Kurdish terrorist group PKK, claiming a double standard for Turkey as opposed to Israel. The PKK have committed raids into Turkish territory, killing 15 Turkish security troops, and Istanbul wants to conduct a military operation -- much like Israel has done with Hezbollah in Lebanon:

"We have repeatedly said that we believe that unilateral military action across the border with Iraq would be unwise," the US amabassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, said in an interview with the NTV news channel.

He was speaking after Ankara on Monday urged Washington and Baghdad to act against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), whose militants have enjoyed safe haven in the mountains of northern Iraq, signalling that it is ready to take cross-border action if they fail to do so. ...

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly hit back, highlighting Washington's support for Israeli military offensives against militants in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

"Terrorism is terrorism everywhere," Erdogan said in Istanbul. "It is not possible to agree with a mentality that tolerates country A and displays a different attitude when it comes to country B."

On one hand, Erdogan has the right to complain. After all, we have supported Israel in its fight against Hezbollah under much the same conditions. If the PKK has indeed raided Turkey and killed Turkish troops there, then the US cannot easily dismiss Erdogan's claims. Iraq has to take some action to restrain the PKK terrorists or face the consequences, and that means the US has to do the same.

That will not be easy. Right now, with all of the violence in central Iraq, the US and the Iraq government cannot afford to stir up another hornet's nest in the pacific Kurdish region. The Kurds have created an oasis of stability and economic growth in the north. Military incursions will threaten to upset all of that -- and with the Kurdish region strategically located between Syria and Iran, the US needs the Kurds to remain staunch friends to America more than ever.

One has to wonder if the PKK would still be in operation had the Turks allowed the 4th Infantry Division to transit Turkey, as originally planned. We would have had to secure the Kurdish region before marching 4ID down into Baghdad to ensure security on our rear, and the PKK would have had to be disarmed if not disbanded. Instead, the Turks forced us to send 4ID via another route, bypassing the Kurds and their own insurgent group.

Erdogan has a sympathetic argument, but little of our sympathy. Had he not created a massive problem for us three years ago, we would be in much better position to solve his problems now.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 18, 2006 10:26 AM

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