June 6, 2007

Turkish Incursion Into Iraq

Turkey sent thousands of troops into northern Iraq, chasing Kurdish insurgents after an apparent attack on a Turkish base. The move threatens to destabilize the area most successfully adjusted to the new status of Iraq and bring the US and Turkey into diplomatic conflict:

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

“It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands,” one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984.

If it isn't a "major offensive," it's at least a reconaissance in force, and significant enough to cause considerable problems. Any time "several thousand" troops move across a national border, it's a major operation, or the nation involved has major command and control problems. Even in hot pursuit, this number seems very large.

The US and Turkey will probably act in concert to keep the heat low on this operation, and the US will pressure Turkey to withdraw quickly. However, the US has to do a better job in keeping Kurdish insurgents from provoking these reactions. We cannot afford a shooting war with Turkey in Northern Iraq, and we cannot afford to provoke an Islamist reaction there which will push Turkey farther away from the West.

If the operation continues for long, expect to see even more complications in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, as the Kurds gear up for a fight against the Turks. This could turn ugly very quickly.

UPDATE: Iraq says they have seen no incursion, but both AP and Reuters have sources in Turkey that claim otherwise.


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Comments (18)

Posted by redleg | June 6, 2007 11:45 AM

They actually haven't. This was a Turkish web report picked up by NBC and Reuters. They've withdrawn it and are now saying it's not true.

Posted by LarryD | June 6, 2007 11:58 AM

So much for MSM fact checking.

The linked to article states the incursion as a fact, though once you get below the ad they mention that Ankara has denied any incursion took place, and that a Turkish military official at their HQ refused to confirm or deny the incursion took place.

Posted by Monkei | June 6, 2007 12:16 PM

Anytime ... anyone ... anywhere in the middle east denies something ... wait 3 days for the "other" shoe to drop.

Posted by Mark L | June 6, 2007 12:35 PM

Well, it could have happened, and it could have not happened. It could also be that the Kurds in the north are willing to let the Turks eliminate Kurdish terrorists attacking Turkey and using northern Iraq for sanctuary.

Even when they are "ethnic brothers" terrorists cause trouble, and the Iraqi Kurds may be happy to have a lesser Kurdistan that they actually rule and get rich in than a "Greater Kurdistan" that costs them more blood and treasure, and might not happen.

In which case, Iraq would turn a blind eye on a Turkish incursion, while Turkey denies it happened.

Posted by exDemo | June 6, 2007 12:42 PM

This incursion is the problem with the confederacy option for the Sunni Kurdish and Shia partition of Iraq, that I once supported.

Much more than "Palestinian nationalism" the Kurds will continue to demand an eventual State and will get one or continue to fight unreported guerrilla wars to seek it. As part of Iraq , supported by the USA , the Turks and Syrians won't try to snuff it out,as they did previously.

Posted by patrick neid | June 6, 2007 12:44 PM

ahh. the Kurdish issue. a real blast from the past. the fabled "kurdishstan".......

sparing all the details, basically after happiness returns to the cradle of civilization the next big flash point will occur here:


this is the area that was promised a country when the british and french drew up the middle east countries and their boundaries after WWI with the fall of the ottoman empire headquartered in turkey. these people mean to have a country having existed several thousand years already. don't forget that before WWI there were no boundaries here--just tribes being run over by the ottomans giving turks their infamous reputations. who can forget the movie "midnight express" which helped promulgate this modern day stereotype.

turkey, syria, iraq and iran mean to prevent it.

Posted by Lightwave | June 6, 2007 1:43 PM

From the AP story:

"Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media..."

That's all you need to know. Who benefits from this story? Specifically, after weeks of saber rattling, why is Turkey flatly denying this story?

The central fact of the matter is if we withdraw our troops from Iraq, you will see Turkey commit far more than an "incursion" into Kurdistan. As I have said on multiple occasions: Turkey will not tolerate a free Kurdish state on its border. Particularly, they will not tolerate terrorists attacking Turkish citizens and then fleeing into northern Iraq.

Here's the kicker. What if the terrorists aren't Kurds? What if they are Iranian proxies trying to start a war between Turkey and Kurdistan? If you were Iran, and trying to destabilize Iraq, having the Turks come in and blow up things certainly would qualify.

Now again, who benefits from this AP story the most? Answer: Not the good guys. Why's the AP quoting sources not allowed to talk to the media for this, rather than people on the ground?

Think about that.

Posted by Sarge | June 6, 2007 2:12 PM

Perhaps the Turks set out for an incursion... and got lost?

Posted by gregdn | June 6, 2007 3:00 PM

Lightwave, you've got a really well developed sense of imagination. The PKK (which our government has designated a terrorist organization) has been attacking Turkish targets for years.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 6, 2007 3:51 PM

Oh, Sarge, "set out for "something" ... and got lost."

I saw this news, at first, up at Little Green Footballs. Because he picked up DEBKA. You know how everyone makes fun of DEBKA, don't cha? So, Charles Johnson ran with our government being "in denial." (Well, we've seen that before, haven't we?)

Little Green Footballs immediately updated this.

Just as they told, last week, that all the American troops hightailed it out of the Kurdish sections; so the Turks could:

A: Have a go at it.

B: Not care one way or the other. But if the Kurds want war they're gonna have to fight the Turks for it.

I guess this means that Bush made a few wrong turns in Irak. And, the "open hunting season" will greet whoever it is whose the next president.

If we're lucky, the Realtor for the Sauds spends the next two years in a straight jacket. Designed by Congress. Because the LESS THEY DO IN DC, the better off we all are!

The other thing to notice? The Turks went in with TANKS. Not exactly able to say they're clueless without a road may, say?

Even if we didn't order up Civil War; we're not the only country that's had one. All over the world, this is more common place, than not.

While we have the biggest toys.

As to Olmert's visit on June 19th; it seems Olmert is HOT UNDER THE COLLAR that Bush is, in fact, going ahead with the sale of super-duper missiles to the Saud's. Dubya just doesn't stop wanting to earn his commission.

Do I know what happens next? Nope. But no one else does, either.

And, Guiliani is holding his own. Every time there's a debate, you get this stage full of bullshit; commandeered by the losing cable co-hosts. And, still? The morning after, nothing throws Guliani off course. (Not even a "lightening strike from God.")

The Man Upstairs definitely has a wonderful sense of humor!

Posted by Lightwave | June 6, 2007 4:59 PM

Lightwave, you've got a really well developed sense of imagination. The PKK (which our government has designated a terrorist organization) has been attacking Turkish targets for years.

This is true. But the recent Ankara bombing is the event that has put the Turkish Army on the border. The Turkish government quickly pinned the blame on the PKK and tensions have quickly ratcheted up to this point in a matter of only a few weeks.

Who benefits most from Turkey attacking Iraqi Kurds? Certainly not the Iraqi Kurds. Certainly not the Turks, who are trying to gain EU entry and would almost certainly lose any chance of that should they go into Kurdistan. The soft EU won't tolerate it and will write the Turks off as barbarians.

Iran, on the other hand, has everything to gain. Why now? Who benefits?

Posted by Del Dolemonte | June 6, 2007 6:07 PM

Monkei says:

"Anytime ... anyone ... anywhere in the middle east denies something ... wait 3 days for the "other" shoe to drop."

Unless, of course, it's Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and you have a compliant liberal news outlet called CNN that will ignore your dictator's atrocities for a decade, just so they can keep their Baghdad office open...

Posted by beth | June 6, 2007 7:35 PM

Here's the kicker. What if the terrorists aren't Kurds? What if they are Iranian proxies trying to start a war between Turkey and Kurdistan? If you were Iran, and trying to destabilize Iraq, having the Turks come in and blow up things certainly would qualify.

That is an interesting theory. You could very well be right. I have also said many times that Turkey won't stand for a free Kurdish state on it's border. I'm quite sure they want very badly to take that part of Iraq for themselves.

If they sense weakness in us or get a weak or no response at all to this reconnaissance in force this WILL turn very bad very quickly.

I hope we respond with B52s rather than sending our Soldiers up there for a shooting battle.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 6, 2007 7:42 PM

Bush's War, is a form of giving cash to terrorists.

Basically, after a 3 week shooting war; we went into BANKER'S MODE. You have no idea the cash we are handing out to bandits!

Some day? What Bush has done will be called SELF-INFLICTED. And, how far he gets, between now and January 20, 2009 is anyone's guess.

But I hope we get out of the business of giving arabs "tribute." (Which is what this graft used to be called.)

As far back as 1776, the europeans paid off the arabs. Who were the pirates. And, when the pirates went after American vessels, George Washington believed "Americans did not want or need another war." And, the congressional critters of that time. All 13 State's worth. Were against building a navy. Navies? Were seen as "bad."

And, given how the Brit's behaved; in parlaying Black flesh into slaves; without ever once having to explain that ships didn't go inland. And, the supplies of black folks still was "never ending."

By the way, the africans had it much worse from the muslems. From then. To now. Nothing's changed.

So, as our history teaches us. We were unprepared to deal any blows to the musselmen (as they were called at the time.) And, the Brits laughed up their sleeves at us. Waiting for us to collapse.

And, in the beginning? The decision was that a navy would "threaten" our shore line! It would do so because every state that had a "shore line" woulde be facing FEDERAL VESSELS.

SO that bad business continued. And, went o for 40 yeras. Until James Monroe; in his second term, said "no more money to pay off the musselmen." Who had also taken every passenger on every ship they stole INTO SLAVERY! They enjoyed doing that to our folks. Sure, words got back ! You didn't know? Literacy was HERE! We had printing presses. And, more irate citizens than you could shake a stick at!

So very early on Congress GOT NO CREDIT for doing the right thing. Until you come to what Winston Churchill noticed: EVENTUALLY America does the right thing. (This gave hitler a decade where he built his military might, unabated.) Of course, then? We said that Europe slept.

As if you could sleep through this stuff!

And, Irak is a mess! BILLIONS have gone into buying off some of the trash. (Mostly, it goes to the zones where the cousins of the Kuwaiti's live. You can recognize them by their red checkered tablecloth turbans.)

Bush is the son-of-a-bitch who is OUT OF CONTROL. And, unwilling to modify his "policy." Worse. It's the SAME POLICY he dad had! One family. In it for the money.

And, tossing around BILLIONS in Irak. So, no wonder the Turks run in and take advantage.

You think the Kurds are without problems? No siree. But one problem they've solved is that their area of Irak, RICH IN OIL AT KIRKUK, is coming under their control. Which pisses off the Saud's and all their relatives.

So we're told Turkey can just shoot in about 50 tanks. As if crossing a border is okay. If you're the russian bear. Or you're one of these excuses for a nation, that gets coverage; alla the palestinians.

ONE PLANE. ONE BOMB. Someday? It's gonna come to that. Because this money-throw-away is a waste of time. And, appeasement is for the birds.

What did Turkey just prove? It's been nailing the Kurds from over their shared border now for a long time.

You want to make friends with these sons of bitches? Go ahead. But just like Israelis are complaining, that DETERENCE IS LOST; you tell me we're not losing "deterence?" Here?

We've got very powerful tools. But we're not allowed to use them.

So, Bush is selling some of the latest technology to the Saud's! The man's been in the presidency since 2000. And, he is so dumb he's learned nothing at all. And, we've allowed our country to be run by the worst sons of bitches in the world, now, for what will go on 12 years.

How'd this happen? Bush got in by promising he'd put women in jail for having abortions, and this is what sold? While congress diddles.

There's something wrong with the rules of engagement!

When we have our military in the field, and Turkey sent in tanks; the response should have hit Turkey with missiles. END OF PROBLEM.

Some end.

From history, however, Turkey going into Irak, looks like hitler going into Czecheslovakia. Just another group of people in a "give away" zone. Hopefully, the Kurds fight back!

Of course, if they do and are successful, you know the next step? Bush shakes his finger. The Alfred E. Newman jesture. From a punk.

Posted by Joe | June 6, 2007 9:07 PM

Lets see, Turks crossing into Northern Iraq chasing PKK, Sunni insurgents in Al Anbar fighting Coalition Forces, Iranian backed Shia Militias (Badr Brigade, Mahdi Army) wrecking havoc in Southern Iraq, Maliki totally powerless, no political settlements, water and power shortages...........helluva job Bushie........Hey Uncle Dick, can we invade Iran now?

Posted by Adjoran | June 7, 2007 1:44 AM

This report probably had as much to do with domestic Turkish politics as the ongoing border problems. Recent huge demonstrations have demanded a return to Turkey's secularist traditions and away from the corruption and radicalism of the Islamist government.

The Kurdish "problem" is real and not going away any time soon, though. The British drew borders after WWI and WWII (the area was considered their "sphere of influence") without much respect to ethnicity or tribal traditions, which is how Iraq ended up with Shi'ia, Sunni, and Kurds.

The Kurds were divided among three countries - Iran, Iraq, and Turkey - because their ancient homeland happened to be the area where the three countries' artificial borders converge. They have been ruthlessly oppressed by all three, up until now, when Iraqi Kurds have built a growing and fairly peaceful economy since the fall of the Ba'athist regime. Naturally, their brethren across the Turkish and Iranian borders aspire to similar autonomy, and the ruling majorities in both countries don't approve.

But even if a political solution were within reach, it wouldn't solve the problem. So many of the rebellious Kurd groups have been fighting their guerrilla wars for so long, it is their way of life. Peace is not in their understanding of the world.

Posted by Dale Michaud | June 7, 2007 3:42 AM

Note: Counterinsurgency, which is the mode we have been in for a some time now in Iraq, by definition means that non-military options take precedence, which is exactly what the current Gen in charge of Iraq stated in the most recent version of the Army field manual on counterinsurgency, which he co-authored.

So, Carol, you can huff and puff about Bush throwing money to the terrorists, but the reality of counterinsurgency is exactly the opposite of what your preach.

Lastly, Carol, it is clear that you have just 'jumped the shark'.

Posted by davod | June 7, 2007 5:56 AM

Carol has only just jumped the shark?